In a year where alomst every industry on the global stage has seen major challenges and struggles to overcome, the video game industry shows no sign of slowing down. As it turns out, a year long requirement to stay at home indoors is precisely conducive for gamers to get their much-needed time to play away.
Setting Pandemic-Induced Records
According to data provided by the UK trade organization Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), the games’ industry saw a growth of 14.5% in 2020 to cross US$5.5b in revenue for the first time in history. At a total revenue of US$5.7b it is clear that the combination of pandemic-induced time at home and the introduction of a new console generation has pushed the market for video games considerably.
As ERA’s data also suggests, the need for at home entertainment has grown in all sectors with 2020 seeing an overall faster growth in entertainment than ever before. The lion’s share of this 16.8% increase comes from digital services as we all sit at home relying on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to keep us entertained while cinemas and other outward markets struggle.
Digital purchase and streaming in both video and music saw huge upward growth while physical sales in both markets flagged with considerable percentage drops as consumers were largely unable to reach physical retailers.
However, of this record breaking US$12.4b revenue year for the entertainment sector it is gaming that once again proves to be top of the pile for the entertainment market with its huge 46.4% share of total proceeds..
Again, for gaming the majority share of this market increase was seen primarily in digital purchases with their revenue accounting for a total US$4.9b of the US$5.8b. Up from US$4.3b in 2019, this increase marks a 16.3% growth for digital purchases, however physical sales were still up by 4.6% from 2019—a growth which is entirely unique to the gaming industry as other entertainment market sectors only saw a decrease in physical purchases.
The Push to Digital Sales
The considerable achievement of gaming’s push to digital sales also means that in digital purchases alone the games industry was worth more than the entirety of the video market (with a total revenue of US$4.5b) and nearly three times that of the music industry too (with a total revenue of US$2.0b).
For the UK the best-selling games of the year remained with EA and Activision as their flagship’s FIFA and Call of Duty continue to be most popular on the British market. FIFA 21 topped the charts with 2.18 million units sold to hold a not inconsiderable gap over second place Call of Duty with its latest instalment Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War selling 1.42 million units.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Grand Theft Auto V
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare
Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The Last Of Us Part II
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
What is perhaps most interesting to note here is that even the older versions of the FIFA and Call of Duty continue to dominate sales in the UK, as well as Grand Theft Auto V in 3rd place – despite now being a near-8-year-old game. Nintendo’s latest Animal Crossing: New Horizons also finds its worthy place on the table having released just as the UK went first went into lockdown. AC:NH found itself quite unwittingly as the perfect lockdown title for the Nintendo Switch as its bright atmosphere and social interaction proved invaluable in such a time of strife for us all.
This astonishing dominance of the video game industry in entertainment is incredible to see, and worth noting, but it is perhaps not altogether surprising considering the circumstances. In a time when at-home distractions were a necessity for us all, video games offered up an hours-long glut of mental reprieve from the harshities of the global situation. Video games as an entertainment media-form tend to have the advantage of longevity; a game can run for far longer than a 90-minute movie or 10-episode television series with many multiplayer titles offering endless play time.
An Avenue For Interaction
Additionally, in this time of physical and social isolation video games offer up an avenue for community interaction and easy shared entertainment amongst friends. The likes of Among Us saw a huge boom across media and culture with gamers and non-gamers alike able to easily hop on and spend a night chatting and playing with friends and family. The ease of its concept and its availability across both pc and the free mobile version allowed for a huge cultural spread and made for very easy get togethers for game nights.
While other industries might flag in this challenging period, the games industry is well placed to keep moving forward. Compared to the likes of film and tv production, game development can still continue relatively apace from home as long as the correct equipment is available. For gamers too staying at home to enjoy our hobby is no new thing, and while this pandemic rages on across the world gaming proves to be a valuable outlet for us all.