But what is normal these days anyway?
SuperData released their digital revenue chart for January 2021, and it leads off with another side effect of Covid-19 and the pandemic; revenues remain up when compared to a pre-pandemic month of the previous year.
- Worldwide digital games earnings rose by 15% year-over-year to reach $11.6B in January 2021. Revenue was up annually across all device types. Mobile revenue grew by 6%. During the time period, PC earnings rose by 31% and console revenue increased by 24%. While January marks yet another month of revenue growth above 10%, it is one of the last months where year-over-year comparisons to game revenues before COVID-19 will be available.
We’ll see what happens when we hit April and the weather warms up and a lot more people will have had their vaccines. Anyway, to the chart!
And it does seem there is a bit of a return to normalcy on the PC end of the chart. The usual top four are back together again atop the chart, though Dungeon Fighter Online pulled ahead of League of Legends in January. That happens now and then, but LoL usually bobs back up to the number one spot eventually.
In fifth spot we find World of Warcraft. I do wonder that they continue to divide WoW into east (China) and west (the rest of the world) rather than a combined number, given that the top four all combine those regions. Whatever. It seems to be doing okay even though the luster of Shadowlands has settled down.
- World of Warcraft player numbers fell back to normal levels as the excitement around November’s Shadowlands expansion subsided. From November to January, revenue fell by 61% and user numbers declined by 41% (these figures do not include China). This roughly matches the pattern seen for the past several expansions, though Shadowlands had a bigger launch. Blizzard does appear to have found a way to increase how often expansions are able to boost earnings. The publisher recently announced that it will be adding the 2007 Burning Crusade expansion into World of Warcraft: Classic this year. Alternating between releasing all-new and classic expansions could cause WoW revenue to spike annually for the near future, instead of every two years (the typical development time for the title’s expansions).
Following that in sixth spot is Valorant, which is also from Riot, the studio that gave us League of Legends. So Riot… well, Tencent, their parent company… is doing pretty well. The game popped up the list due to some fresh content.
- Valorant earnings and player numbers rebounded in January thanks to the launch of a new character and fresh season of content. From December to January, earnings were up 39% while player numbers rose by 29%. Returning lapsed players accounted for 72% of the growth in monthly player numbers. The game’s long-term success will likely depend on the ability of developer Riot Games to consistently launch content in order to entice players to keep coming back.
The top ten then finishes out with CS:GO, Roblox, World of Tanks, and Fortnite, all of which are regulars on the list. Cyberpunk 2077, which topped the December list, fell off, as popular games that are not “games as a service” with an ongoing revenue scheme tend to.
On the console chart we have a bunch of old familiar titles. As with the PC side, Cyberpunk 2077 fell off, leaving the usual suspects… Call of Duty, NBA 2K21, GTA V… behind. The only real surprise I suppose is Apex Legends getting back in the top ten. EA must have stopped neglecting it for a bit.
Then, on the mobile end of the chart… well, the usual suspects are there too. The order was shaken up a bit. Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, jumped up to the top of the list again, putting it ahead of Pokemon Go. Peacekeeper Elite, the China market mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, came in third while Honour of Kings, which was has been down near the bottom of the list the last few months, looks to be making a move towards the top of the chart again, a place it occupied for many months straight.
And then, perennial list member Candy Crush Saga was still hanging around, coming in fifth.
The only other tidbit from the report was about Red Dead Redemption 2, which reported that its PC player base had jumped up.
- The PC player base of Red Dead Redemption 2 hit its highest level ever in January and nearly doubled the user count of the console version. In December, Rockstar began selling the game’s multiplayer component, Red Dead Online, as a standalone purchase for $4.99 (raised to $19.99 on February 15). In December and January, PC sales of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online totaled a combined 1.8M, far higher than the console version (611K). The PC edition of the game benefited the most from the deal because some owners of the console version likely picked up the game on PC for cheap in order to take advantage of features like improved graphics.
That said, the game did not make the top ten for either PC or console. Rockstar has a good game, but it doesn’t have the same following as its stable mate GTA V, which always makes the console list.
And, finally, the question for the February chart; will Valheim make the PC list? They have reported 4 million units sold this month already. At $20 a pop will that be enough?