Category Archives: SuperData Research

No More SuperData Monthly Charts

Information about the business side of video games in general, and MMORPGs in particular, has grown more and more scarce over the years.  Everybody likes to put out a press release and announce at earnings calls when business is up and subscriber numbers are booming.  But when they’re down all of that becomes “not interesting” and companies reach for bullshit metrics or data without sufficient context to cover their tracks.

In the middle of that SuperData Research gave us something of a peek into digital revenues with their monthly charts and annual reports.

The monthly ranking lacked numbers, but at least gave us some sort of relative feel for how a certain small set of higher earning titles were doing.  We argued about how accurate their rankings actually were, but even flawed data collected consistently can demonstrate trends over time.

We will have to do without even that monthly tidbit of data going forward, as it appears that Nielsen, which has been cutting staff since last summer, decided to shut down their SuperData group that they had acquired back in 2018.  A crowded field and under performing revenues are reported to be why Nielsen decided to shut down the unit.  There has been no official press release from Nielsen up to this point, though they have been notifying their customers, which is apparently how word got out, and confirmed the closure with a statement.

Sources:

SuperData Research Says WoW is Back to Normal in January

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!

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2021

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 GoPeacekeeper 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?

SuperData Shows WoW was Still Going Strong in December

SuperData Research released their digital revenue numbers for December last week, so it is time once again to see what they say.  Overall it was another big month for video game revenue.

  • Digital games closed out 2020 with $12.0B in December, which was an 15% growth from the prior year and the highest monthly revenue total ever. Mobile earnings were up 5% year-over-year and console earnings grew 16%. PC games revenue, however, jumped 40% largely thanks to the release of Cyberpunk 2077.

The chart for December:

SuperData Research Top 10 – December 2020

On the PC side of the chart the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 topped the chart, which despite many issues, still raked in a ton of cash.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 had the biggest game launch of all time based on digital revenue and digital units sold (10.2M). A successful marketing campaign and the reputation of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt provided the hype necessary for the CD Projekt Red title to break records despite issues including performance problems on consoles, widespread glitches and the indefinite removal of the game from the PlayStation Store. An extremely high share of digital sales (80%) were on PC, likely due to the delisting on PlayStation and overall state of the console versions. Regardless of the short-term financial success, the critical backlash means the developer will now have to invest significant resources fixing the game in order to rehabilitate its image before the launch of its next title. [total subtracts refunds issued]

That ruled the roost on the PC side, which kept League of Legends down in second place for another month.

Then we see World of Warcraft in third place, indicating that they at least held people with the Shadowlands expansion into the first full month.  Generally WoW tends to live on the lower half of the chart, so third place is pretty good.

After WoW we get the rest of the usual top four entries on the PC list, Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online.

CS:GO saw a surge, ending up in seventh spot for December, followed by Fortnite and its return to the top ten on the PC stack.  Fortnite was doing well in December according to SuperData.

  • On PC and console, Fortnite earnings were at their highest since August 2020, and player numbers were larger than at any point since August 2019. High-profile events and collaborations continue to draw people to the shooter. December began with a limited-time Marvel Comics event that brought in a record 15.3M concurrent players. This was followed by the release of cosmetic items from franchises including Star Wars, Halo and The Walking Dead. 

After that is the redoubtable Roblox and World of Tanks to wrap up the PC side.

On the console column Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which released in November, carried on in first place, followed again by NBA 2K21 again.

Cyberpunk 2077 only managed third place on the console chart, which while respectable, makes me wonder if the refunds for PS4 and XBox One users might have been a drag.

After that there was the perennial list member GTA V.  It had another release that pushed sales up yet again.

  • The release of the Cayo Perico Heist for Grand Theft Auto V resulted in the game’s highest monthly digital earnings ever.  The update for the multiplayer Grand Theft Auto Online mode marked the first time the seven-year-old game received a new open-world area for players to explore. Player numbers also grew 46% from November levels but did not exceed totals achieved earlier in 2020.

And then we find Fortnite, up from tenth spot last month.

On the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go topped the list, swapping spots with Free Fire, which went down to second position in December.  Candy Crush Saga managed to take fifth position on the list, while the long time first place champion, Honour of Kings, remained down in the 9th spot.

Finally, while it did not make the list in December, SuperData once again has a bit to say about Among Us and its success in 2020.

  • Among Us player numbers fell from their November peak, but the game was still 2.8 times as popular as the next most-popular game, Roblox. The title also launched on Nintendo Switch in December. This edition sold 3.2M copies and was the highest-earning version of the game for the month.

And that is what SuperData had to say for December.

SuperData Reviews 2020 Digital Game Revenue

SuperData Research has put out their 2020 year in review summary.  It is available for free over on their site for the moment.  You have to fill out a form in order to get access to it… they have to have an email address and a physical address to harvest for their efforts now, this whole thing being mostly an ad for their services… but I have many addresses in my head, so I grabbed a copy of the report.

This has become an annual tradition and you can find posts here covering their report for the past three years.

SuperData only tracks the digital market, so the disruption of the old school retail channels that came with the pandemic did not cause much of a hiccup for them.  And, as they have been saying for most of the year, digital revenue was up over 2019.

SuperData 2020 Digital Gaming Revenues

You can compare that with the same data points from 2019 and see that all segments were up.

SuperData 2019 Digital Gaming Revenues

Unlike their monthly chart, SuperData once again dices up their data into different categories, save for the mobile market, so we can get a little more insight into what is booming.

  • Mobile – $73.8 billion (+9.4 billion)
  • Free-to-play PC – $22.7 billion (+1.6 billion)
  • Premium Console – $17.8 billion (+4 billion)
  • Premium PC – $6.7 billion (+1.5 billion)
  • Pay-to-play PC – $3.7 billion (+400 million)
  • Free-to-play Console – $1.8 billion (+200 million)

While all segments were up, mobile remains the biggest market world wide.  Also, free to play dominated revenue world wide, with premium mostly being a thing in the US and EU.  Per the report:

  • Free-to-play games earned 78% of digital revenue in 2020, but premium title revenue grew faster, rising 28% vs. 9%.  North America and Europe together accounted for 84% of all premium games revenue.  Since COVID-19 impacted these regions severely, spending on premium content jumped as COVID-19 shut down other leisure activities like watching professional sports, visiting movie theaters and traveling.

After that we get a little red meat, some actual revenue numbers for some titles, though they are broken out by free to play and premium and all platforms are lumped together, which has the effect of emphasizing some titles over others.

SuperData Free to Play titles 2020

There are a lot of the same titles on that list as there were in 2019, which ought to be expected.  One conspicuous absence is Fortnite, which was in the top slot last year.  I wonder if the petulant Tim Sweeney, who was angry about SuperData’s reporting last year, has been declining to share sales data since the Epic Store is the main source for the game now, it having been locked out of the Apple and Google ecosystems.

Familiar titles from the monthly mobile chart make up a good chunk of the list.  Honour of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite, Free Fire, Pokemon Go, AFK Arena, and Gardenscapes are all big mobile titles, with the top three being primarily in China.

League of Legends and Dungeon Fighter Online represent the PC exclusive side of the house.  LoL was up over last year, but DFO was down.

And then there is Roblox, which popped up in different charts during 2020 and which happens to be available on PC, mobile, and console.  That is pretty much all the representation the console market is going to get here.

Then there is premium.

SuperData Premium titles 2020

As I noted last year, this list is dominated by titles that are on both PC and console.  And according to the notes for the chart, Call or Duty: Modern Warfare gets to claim the Call of Duty: Warzone revenue due to it being part of the same install client.

In fact, glancing down that chart, the only title that is NOT on both PC and console is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.  That is a testament to how popular the game was during the pandemic I suppose.

But even the top premium title would only land in sixth place on the free to play chart, and second place wouldn’t even make the cut.  And this divide leaves me wondering, once again, where World of Warcraft would land.  It straddles premium and pay-to-play PC and had a very good year according to SuperData.  They quoted Bobby Kotick as saying it was a billion dollar annual franchise.  I guess you have to pay SuperData for that sort of information.

And, of course, the titles that make this list are the crazy rich outliers in the industry.  As we see from things like Steam’s annual stats and data from companies like Pearl Abyss and Enad Global 7, there are a lot of games out there chugging along and making decent money.

On other topics, SuperData is following the industry trend and talking about XR now rather than VR, as that lets them include AR titles in the mix.  They did say that sales of VR headsets were down in 2020, though revenue was up, which SuperData attributes largely to Half-Life: Alyx and the hunger for people to have something new to play with their expensive peripheral.

There is more to the report, including looks deeper into certain segments, but those are the high level bits that track from year to year.  They sum up with the expectation that revenues will continue to rise, but more slowly in 2021.  No doubt if the vaccines are successful people will be keen to go outside and do something.

SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue

SuperData Research put out its report for digital revenue for November, which saw record numbers.

  • Digital games earned $11.5B in November 2020, the highest monthly revenue ever. Overall earnings were up 15% over November 2019. Mobile grew 9% while PC rose 22% to reach a new revenue record, which was driven largely by the release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Console earnings were up 24% but fell slightly below the all-time record set in April 2020.

According to another report they put out, Black Friday fell short of 2019 by 10% due to a variety of reasons, mostly on the console front.  But PC sales were the big winner, with World of Warcraft topping that end of their monthly chart.

SuperData Research Top 10 – November 2020

World of Warcraft took first place on PC for digital sales, leaping past the usual suspects that make up the top four names nearly every month, due to the Shadowlands expansion.

  • The release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands led to the game’s highest monthly revenue since 2008 and player numbers since 2010. Compared to the launch of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in August 2018, earnings and user numbers were 50% and 34% higher, respectively. It is unlikely the game will sustain these high player numbers for more than one to two more months. The title is now highly dependent on major expansions to drive temporary spikes in revenue and user numbers.

Great numbers… the highest revenue since 2008 and the most players since 2010… but the caveat is pretty real.  This spike was driven by the new expansion and history shows that those numbers will taper off if they don’t have content that will deliver for players over time.  It would be good to follow strength with strength, like maybe having some news in time for BlizzConline in February about plans for WoW Classic and The Burning Crusade.

After WoW we have the usual four, League of Legends and the heavily Asian titles, Dungeon Fighter Online, Crossfire, and Fantasy Westward Journey Online.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War dropped into six place with its Warzone free to play mode.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War sold 5.7M digital units in November, a 7% increase compared to the previous franchise record holder Black Ops 4. The ongoing success of the free-to-play Warzone mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare helped drive interest in the latest title. Warzone will likely continue to be the most common way gamers experience Call of Duty on PC or console in the near future. Thanks to Warzone, Modern Warfare had 2.7 times as many players as Cold War in November 2020.

World of Tanks returned to the list in seventh position, followed by Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, which launched early in November.

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sold 1.7M units, 50% more than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at launch. The latest game benefited from a positive reception to Odyssey, from being a showpiece game for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S and also from a last-minute delay of Cyberpunk 2077. Even though the game’s overall revenue was up 23% over Odyssey at launch, in-game revenue was down 62%. This was likely because Valhalla did not offer a paid experience booster at launch, which Odyssey was criticized for featuring. However, Ubisoft did add a booster into Valhalla in December.

Then the list wraps up with Roblox and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which was in sixth spot last month.

On the console list Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War topped the chart while Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla managed fourth position.  Staple of the console list, Grand Theft Auto V managed to hold on another month in eighth, while Fortnite grabbed 10th spot.

On the mobile side of the chart Free Fire, the mobile shooter from Singapore, returned to the top spot, while Pokemon Go fell into second place after topping the list last month.  Bell weather title Candy Crush Saga held on in seventh position while Honour of Kings, which held the top spot for many months this year, stayed on the list in ninth position.

Not on any of the charts, the sleeper hit of 2020, Among Us, gets a special mention in the November report.

  • Among Us had roughly half a billion monthly active users in November. The title is now by far the most popular game ever in terms of monthly players. Since Among Us is not heavily monetized, earnings figures are comparatively smaller. The PC version (which has a $5 upfront price) accounted for the majority of revenue from August to November (64%) despite having an extremely small share of the total player base (3% in November).

So that is November.  For December we will no doubt see Cyberpunk 2077 jump onto the PC and console charts, and we’ll have to see how well World of Warcraft holds on after its trip to the number one position.

SuperData Sees WoW Rising and Crusader Kings 3 Holding On

SuperData Research published their monthly digital revenue chart for October so it is time to see what is up in video games.  As has become almost standard so far in 2020, their report opens up with another statement about how much video game revenue is up over the previous year.

  • Consumers spent $10.6B on digital games in October 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Consistent with ongoing trends, console spending grew the fastest, with earnings up 18% over 2019. This was especially impressive growth given that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in October 2019 and many of the biggest titles of the 2020 holiday season were not released until November. Earnings on other platforms rose as well, with mobile up 15% and PC up 10%.

Again, people staying home, or trying to, has led to more consumption on the video game front.

And then there is the chart itself.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2020

On the PC end of the chart the usual top four remain in place, swapping spots but otherwise the same crowd as always.  But in fifth position, or the first actually competitive position most months, World of Warcraft shows up.  This is not unexpected as the warm up for the Shadowlands expansion was in play.

Then there is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in sixth and Roblox in seventh spot.

And then we find Crusader Kings III still on the chart for October in spot eight.  It is down from fifth spot last month, but the surprise is that it stayed on the chart at all.  Games that are not online subscription or cash shop based tend to peak quickly and fade, usually just appearing for a single month.  But CK3 breaks the mold again.

That is followed by Fornite and Valorant, while World of Tanks fell off the list again.

On the console column, NBA 2K21 tops the list, followed by FIFA 21.  And down at the bottom of the list is Grand Theft Auto V.  It has been a regular on the list since it began, can it hold on much longer?

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go is back at the top of the chart.  It passed the 4 billion dollar total revenue mark during the summer and just keeps on going.

Then there is Genshin Impact, which made both the console and mobile charts.  SuperData has a bullet point about it:

  • Genshin Impact from miHoYo was October’s highest-grossing game. The title, which was released on September 28 on mobile, PlayStation 4 and PC, is an unprecedented international success for a game made by a Chinese developer. Genshin Impact features monetization mechanics commonly found in mobile games like collecting characters through gacha (where users pay for the chance to get random in-game items) and limited-time events. However, gameplay inspired by console role-playing games and action-adventure titles attracted players who may have avoided mobile gacha games in the past.

Last months number one, Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, carried on in third position in October.

Perennial list member Candy Crush Saga held on another month, securing seventh position.  And down at the bottom of the list is Honour of Kings, which had a run in first place for much of this year.  Still, don’t cry for its fall, being in the top ten overall still means it is probably raking in the bucks.

Other bullet points from the SuperData report:

  • FIFA 21 sold 1.5M digital units. Compared to the launch month of FIFA 20, launch month digital sales and revenue were both up (1.2M vs. 1.5M for sales). However Electronic Arts had a significantly shorter launch month period in which to sell FIFA 20 since it was released only at the end of September, while FIFA 21 went on sale at the start of October.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion from Ubisoft broke franchise records, selling 1.9M digital units.  Even though the game was only on sale for the final three days in October, its first month sales were significantly higher than Watch Dogs 2, which was released on November 15, 2016 and sold 431K digital units. The latest game likely benefited from several free giveaways of Watch Dogs 2 earlier in 2020, which built up the franchise’s audience.
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Activision Blizzard sold 402K digital units, a smaller total than recent remakes of titles in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy sold 520K digital units in June 2017 (it released on the last day of the month), while Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled sold 552K copies in June 2019. There was likely less pent-up demand for Crash 4 and the title was also released during a more crowded release period than its predecessors. First-month earnings were, however, the highest of modern Crash games since Crash 4 launched at a standard $59.99 price point instead of $39.99, like the recent remakes.
  • Star Wars: Squadrons sold 1.1M digital units in October, putting it ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II (1.0M) and behind Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2.9M).
  • The Star Wars IP attracted a sizable audience to the title even though it belonged to the niche space combat subgenre. In contrast to Crash 4, Squadrons earnings were lower than those of other modern Star Wars games given its lower $39.99 price.
  • SuperData will now regularly be reporting on the performance of game subscription services, which give users access to a library of premium titles at a fixed monthly price. Publishers and platform holders have invested heavily in Netflix-style subscription services in order to generate recurring revenue. SuperData is currently covering Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now and EA Play.* Combined revenue for these services in October was up 142% year-over-year and subscriber numbers rose 113%. Xbox Game Pass accounted for the majority of growth in both cases.

SuperData Says September Superb for Crusader Kings 3

It is time for the monthly look at SuperData Research’s digital revenue chart.  The September version was made available last week and it heralds another banner month for video game revenue.

  • Digital games earned $10.7B in September 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Games earned more across all platform types than during the same period in 2019. Mobile revenue was up 9%, PC rose by 8% and console earnings increased 40% as major fall titles began to hit the market.

The chart itself shows some of those fall titles.

SuperData Research Top 10 – September 2020

On the PC end of the chart, the usual order has been restored to the perennial top four, with League of Legends back on top.

However, it is fifth place that is interesting, as it sees Crusader Kings III from strategy game developer Paradox make it onto the list.

  • Crusader Kings III from Paradox broke records for PC strategy games, selling 1.1M digital units in September. The medieval dynasty simulator sold more units in its launch month than either Total War: Three Kingdoms from Sega or Sid Meier’s Civilization VI from 2K. Crusader Kings III did earn slightly less at launch than its closest competitors because it was priced at $49.99 instead of the more common $59.99.

A pretty big deal for what seemed like a slow motion medieval reality TV simulator to some (okay, maybe that is just me), but it is good to see it break into the list on launch. I’ll be interested to see how it fares in the Steam charts come the end of the year.

Following CK3 was World of Tanks, returning to the list after a month away, Roblox, in seventh place as it last month, and World of Warcraft, which moved up two spots since August, no doubt due to anticipation related to the coming expansion… anticipation that was thwarted when the expansion was delayed.

After that comes Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to round out the list.

On the console column NBA 2K21 drove to the top of the list.

  • NBA 2K21 was the top-earning title of the month, selling 1.9M digital units. Digital console sales were up 19% over NBA 2K20 at launch, and in-game revenue similarly increased by 8%. The game benefited from the rescheduling of the delayed NBA postseason. In August, NBA 2K20 also performed better than usual thanks to the return of the NBA on TV.

That was followed by the remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, proving once again that nostalgia pays.

  • Nostalgia was a powerful sales driver in September. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 from Activision Blizzard sold 2.8M digital units, a significantly higher launch figure than the publisher’s previous remakes of Crash Bandicoot or Spyro games. Also in September, Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars sold 1.8M digital units, which was by far the biggest launch ever for a Mario title on Switch.

Then there was Marvel’s Avengers, which also sold a lot of units, followed by Super Mario 3D All-Stars, mentioned above along with Tony Hawk.

With a pack of new titles dominating the console chart, Grand Theft Auto V fell to tenth position, the lowest I can recall ever seeing the perennial survivor.

On the mobile end of the chart there is Free Fire, the title from Singapore that popped onto the charts in third place back in July, then moved into second in August, now at the top.  Pokemon Go held in strong in second place, still ahead of Honour of Kings and the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile, Peacekeeper EliteCandy Crush Saga, my bellwether title, came in at seventh position.

Here is where I would normally put the NPD top ten in order to compare the above to US console and PC retail sales.  However, NPD has stopped sharing that data.  I am going to guess that the pandemic, which has pushed digital sales, had something to do with that.  They missed a couple of months earlier this year and now appear to have decided to stop sharing altogether.

So, instead, I will just wrap up with two additional bullet points from the September report:

  • In September, the mobile version of Among Us reached nearly as many players as Pokémon GO did during the peak of its popularity in August 2016. While the indie game originally launched in July 2018, interest in the game skyrocketed during the past summer as popular Twitch streamers took up the game. However, the high player numbers have remained subdued as in-game spending was limited to a handful of cosmetic items and the ability to remove ads. The game’s mobile revenue was not enough for it to break into the top 40 on mobile. Earnings were, however, still extremely high for a game made by only three developers.
  • Rocket League’s transition to a free-to-play business model paid off for developer Psyonix (now a subsidiary of Epic Games). Player numbers nearly tripled in September, up 193% a week after the shift. Revenue-wise, total digital sales from September 23 to 30 (when the game was free to play) nearly matched the three previous weeks. The game’s esports ecosystem should also benefit from a boost in potential viewers on streaming platforms such as Twitch.

That one about Among Us is timely, since on Saturday I was posting about some rando from the games industry who wanted streamers to pay to stream games.  This shows the power that streamer can have.

SuperData has Fall Guys on Top for August

SuperData Research got their digital revenue chart for August out and, no surprise, revenues were up over last year for another month.

  • August digital games revenue totaled $10.8B, up 16% year-over-year. Digital console earnings grew the most and were up 88% compared to the same month in 2019. Revenue also rose by 15% on PC and 3% on mobile.

The pandemic continues to boost the video games industry as 2020 stays ahead of 2019.

  • Digital games have earned $82.8B through the first eight months of 2020, a growth of 13% from the same time span last year. Gaming revenue took off in March as COVID-19 lockdowns spread worldwide. Since then, each game device type (mobile, PC or console) has generated higher year-over-year revenue. 

But it is the chart that we like to look at, and the August chart has a shakeup of the usual order on the PC end of things.

SuperData Research Top 10 – August 2020

And, as I wrote above, the usual order on the PC side of things got a shake up in August, with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout topping the chart.

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout had the highest-earning launch of any PC title ($185M) since Overwatch in May 2016. The innovative take on battle royale, published by Developer Digital and developed by Mediatonic, was free to PlayStation Plus subscribers, but 8.2M players still paid for the PC version. The breakout success of Fall Guys was especially impressive since it came from a relatively small development team. The game’s chaotic, wacky gameplay was a big draw on gaming video content platforms like Twitch, where it topped the viewership charts in the lead-up to launch.

I had not even heard of the game… or I had ignored it… until the SuperData chart came out, but there it is on top for August.

That pushed the usual top four, which I think of as the LCDF lineup due to their frequent ordering, down a notch as their usual order changed up, with Crossfire in second, League of Legends in third, Fantasy Westward Journey Online in fourth, and Dungeon Fighter Online in fifth.

The bottom half of the list saw Fortnite back up in its spot relative to the LCDF titles after having fallen in July, seeing a revenue boost in August.

  • Fortnite revenue grew 76% month-over-month on PC and console, more than offsetting its falling mobile revenue. Player spending jumped in late August thanks to a new season of content featuring cosmetic items based on Marvel Comics characters. This is in sharp contrast to its mobile revenue, which fell by 62% after Apple and Google removed the game from the iOS App Store and Google Play as part of the ongoing legal dispute between Epic and the two technology companies. (Our published mobile revenue totals do not encompass the Android version of Fortnite available outside of Google Play.)

Fortnite was followed by Roblox in seventh, CS:GO in eighth.  New shooter Valorant was down from fifth in July to ninth in August, and World of Warcraft managed to stay on the chart in tenth position.  World of Tanks fell of the list for August.

On the console chart Call of Duty: Modern Warfare took the top spot back as last months number one, Ghosts of Tsushima fell back to sixth position.  FIFA 20 and Fortnite followed in second and third, with the venerable GTA V in fourth position.

And at the mobile end of the chart, Pokemon Go continues its summer reign in the top spot.

  • Pokémon GO continued its upward momentum in August and broke its all-time earnings record. The game generated 25% more that its previous revenue peak achieved during August 2016. It benefited from warm weather and frequent limited-time events that appealed to its passionate player base. Pokémon GO has historically performed best in the summer and revenue will likely begin a seasonal decline in either September or October.

Then there is Free Fire, the title from Singapore that popped onto the charts in third place last month.  It has worked its way past Honour of Kings and into second place.  Behind them in fourth position is Peacekeeper Elite, the mobile version of PUBG available in China.  PUBG Mobile, the version for the rest of us only rings in at eighth position, just ahead of Candy Crush Saga.  However, PUBG Mobile may be in for a fall, as it has since been banned in India.

  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile was the 8th highest earning mobile title in its last month before being banned in India. The game was frequently the country’s highest-grossing game before India’s government furthered a widespread crackdown on Chinese apps (Tencent has operated the mobile version of PUBG). Also in August, the game’s overall revenue and player numbers did not change significantly, which indicates that bans of the mobile version of Fortnite did not lead to a mass player exodus to PUBG Mobile.

NPD also has their top ten chart forAugust available as well.  As always, NPD numbers are US only, combine PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales (where noted).

  1. Madden NFL 21
  2. UFC 4
  3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  4. Ghost of Tsushima
  5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  6. Ring Fit Adventure
  7. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  9. Paper Mario: The Origami King*
  10. Mortal Kombat 11

*Digital sales on Nintendo eShop not included

As usual, this list continues to indicate how much consoles still depend on physical retail distribution.

So it goes.  Another month of pandemic remains good business for some.

SuperData Say Pokemon Go was All Go Go Go in July

SuperData Research got their monthly chart out for July last week and I am going to squeeze in a post about it here on the last day of August.

SuperData Research Top 10 – July 2020

On the PC side of the chart, the usual top four remain in place, though League of Legends regained the top spot on the chart after being down in second for June.

Valorant, the shooter from Riot, moved up a spot.  It showed up on the scene in sixth place, but moved to fifth this month, swapping positions with RobloxWorld of Tanks, which fell off the list last month, returned in seventh spot, just ahead of World of Warcraft.  And bringing up the rear are CS:GO and FortniteThe Sims 4, which was in tenth spot for June fell off the list.

For consoles, the much talked about Ghost of Tsushima topped the chart.  Per the report:

Ghost of Tsushima sold 1.9M digital units in July to become the fastest-selling new PlayStation IP. The game far outpaced the early sales of other new franchises launched on PlayStation 4: Horizon: Zero Dawn sold 1.9M units in its first two months on the market in early 2017, and Days Gone sold 1.3M units in its first two months after launching in late April 2019. Ghost of Tsushima also set the record for the biggest console game ever launched during the month of July. The Last of Us Part II, also a PlayStation exclusive, set the June record only one month prior. A lack of alternative entertainment options due to COVID-19 has contributed to the success of recent PlayStation titles during what is historically a quiet season for new game releases.

GTA V pulled in fifth place, just ahead of Fortnite, and Pokemon Sword and Shield made it on to the list thanks to the expansion for the game launched on the Switch.  Paper Mario: The Oragami King also got a mention from SuperData:

Paper Mario: The Origami King sold 555K digital units in July. While its performance was nowhere near those of the last big Switch exclusives, Animal Crossing: New Horizons (5.0M) and Pokémon Sword and Shield (2.7M), the game did better than Fire Emblem: Three Houses when it launched in July 2019.

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go rose to first place based on a dedicated, if smaller, following.

Pokémon GO had its second-biggest revenue month ever. Earnings were just 0.4% lower than in August 2016, when the game was a global phenomenon. Now, however, it relies on a dedicated core of high-spending players, and July 2020 user numbers were just 15% of what they were in August 2016. July revenue was up thanks to the ‘Pokémon GO Fest’ in-game event on July 25 and 26. The event required a $15 fee to access a range of challenges and activities.

Meanwhile, the venerable Candy Crush Saga remained on the list, holding on in tenth position.

SuperData also pointed out the game Free Fire, which grabbed third place in July.

Free Fire has become the number two [three?] mobile game by carving out a niche in emerging markets. The mobile battle royale title from Singaporean publisher Garena has the distinction of being the world’s top Southeast Asian-published game. The game runs well on affordable, low-spec mobile phones and regularly tops the charts in markets like India, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

I’ll have to keep an eye on Free Fire going forward, representing the markets it does.

NPD also has their top ten chart for July available as well.  As always, NPD numbers are US only, combine PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales (where noted).

  1. Ghost of Tsushima
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  3. Paper Mario: The Origami King*
  4. The Last of Us: Part II
  5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  6. Ring Fit Adventure
  7. Mortal Kombat 11
  8. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  10. Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris

*Digital sales on Nintendo eShop not included

Being focused on retail, the NPD list is heavy on console titles, as they depend on physical sales much more than PC games.  And, while Ghost of Tsushima tops the list as expected, half the list is also Nintendo products, showing again how much they depend on retail over digital sales.

 

SuperData Research Says Gaming was Still Going Strong in June

SuperData Research has released their digital revenue rankings chart for June 2020.  Digital revenue remains strong in the video game market according to the lead item, though PC and consoles were down a bit from March.

  • Digital games generated $10.46B in revenue in June 2020, the second-highest total ever after April 2020’s $10.54B sum. Overall earnings were up 3% from May ($10.2B) and 9% over June 2019 ($9.6B). Both PC and console revenue were down from their 2020 peaks set in March. This was offset by growth in mobile revenue, which hit an all-time high. Mobile game spending typically sees a boost in the summer months, and this seasonal growth was likely further bolstered by the limited availability of other entertainment options due to COVID-19.

The chart itself shows the top ten in each segment they cover.

SuperData Research Top 10 – June 2020

On the PC side of the chart, the usual top four continue to dominate the list, though Dungeon Fighter Online and League of Legends swapped places.

Roblox, which climbed onto the list in April held on to the fifth spot, which it had taken last month.

In sixth place we have Valorant, the new shooter from Riot.  My daughter plays it and describes it as a mash up of CS:GO and Overwatch, though she was yelling at her screen so much I initially thought she must be playing golf.  But I guess it does have the word “rant” in the title.  SuperData called out the game specifically in their notes:

  • Valorant from Riot Games had the biggest launch ever for a free-to-play PC title. The game’s revenue and player numbers put it ahead of what the PC version of Apex Legends achieved in February 2019. Apex Legends did, however, earn more overall at launch due to its console version. Valorant also made more than its closest competitor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in June despite the Valve title having a slightly larger audience. CS:GO user numbers and revenue were also down for the second straight month in June, indicating Valorant is siphoning away players.

This gives Riot two games on the PC list, and might explain why LoL slipped into second place I suppose.

After that we have Fortnite, which is seeing a bit of a resurgence with their new party game mode, World of Warcraft, CS:GO, and The Sims 4World of Tanks, a generally solid entry on the list, fell off for June.

On the console list, The Last of Us II, a PlayStation exclusive, jumped to the top.

  • The Last of Us Part 2 sold 2.8M digital units in June, easily setting the record for exclusive PlayStation launches. The long-awaited sequel surpassed Marvel’s Spider-Man and Final Fantasy VII Remake, which each sold 2.2M digital units in their respective release months. However, sales of TLOU2 are likely to be frontloaded as more than two-thirds of first-month digital sales were preorders, a high share even for a AAA title.

After that is FIFA 20 and then Pokemon Sword & Shield, which launched a paid DLC update that boosted revenue.

  • The Isle of Armor expansion for Pokémon Sword & Shield was responsible for the title’s highest monthly digital earnings since launch. The earnings far exceed the highest month of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate additional content revenue. This is the first time a traditional Pokémon game has featured premium additional content, and this new strategy has paid off.

Nintendo also has Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Animal Crossings: New Horizons on the list.  That is unusual for the company and shows them transitioning from their strong retail presence of the past to a bigger digital footprint, no doubt spurred by the pandemic.

In fourth place was GTA V, which SuperData had some concerns about.

  • Grand Theft Auto V revenue on console fell 33% in June, indicating a lack of major updates may be offsetting increased engagement from COVID-19 lockdowns. The last named update to the game, The Diamond Casino Heist, released in December 2019. During that time, spending did rise temporarily in April and May, possibly due to COVID-19 lockdowns, before falling in June. The PC version is on a different performance trajectory and continued to benefit from a free Epic Games Store giveaway in May.

After that comes Fortnite, again doing well, and Destiny 2, which jumped onto the list in sixth place as it too had something new to offer:

  • Destiny 2 revenue and player numbers rose substantially as a result of a new season and announced expansion packs. Preorders for the Beyond Light expansion, currently slated to launch in November, and spending coinciding with a new season of content caused monthly earnings to rise 221% in June to reach the highest level since October 2019. Player numbers also jumped 45% to a record total for the game. The current and announced updates to the game were especially appealing to lapsed players, and millions of users who had previously quit the game returned in June.

On the mobile end of the chart, where all the money is I guess, Peacekeeper Elite, the Chinese market mobile version of PUBG, remained at the top of the list, followed by the previous reigning champ, Honour of KingsPUBG Mobile West also made the list, grabbing the tenth position.  In between Pokemon Go held onto fourth position while Candy Crush Saga dropped down to the ninth spot.

And then for comparison, NPD is back in the saddle still and has their own June numbers chart up.  As always, NPD numbers are US only, combine PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales (where noted).

  1. The Last of Us: Part II
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Mortal Kombat 11
  6. Red Dead Redemption II
  7. Ring Fit Adventure
  8. NBA 2K20
  9. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  10. Minecraft Dungeons*

*Digital sales on Nintendo eShop not included

That is a very different list in some ways.  Yes, TLOU2 is at the top, because consoles are still the most retail oriented of the platforms and everything on the list is on consoles.  But Pokemon Sword & Shield is nowhere to be seen because the DLC is digital only.  Instead, the Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure for the Switch, which has a controller with it, makes the cut, as does Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, an older title, showing that Nintendo still has a foot in the retail space.  ACNH making both the SuperData’s digital list and NPD’s retail only list shows how strong it remains.