US video game sales down 10% in first half of 2022

U.S. video game spending was down 10% from the first half of 2021, to $26.3 billion, tracking firm NPD reported today.

Why is this important: The market is cooling, in part due to temporary factors like the lack of major game releases and constraints limiting console supply.

Details: Most major categories fell when comparing the first half of 2022 to 2021.

  • Spending on game content decreased by 10%.
  • Hardware spending is down 9%.
  • Accessories are down 14%.
  • Subscriptions was the only major category with an increase in spending, but NPD did not release the exact figure.

Mobile Games also took a hit.

  • Tracking firm Sensor Tower says spending on mobile games fell 10.7% in June, compared to the same month a year ago.
  • The decline was on Google Play, with a slight increase on Apple platforms.
  • Yesterday, Sensor Tower reported that for the first time, spending on non-gaming apps exceeded spending on games in Apple’s US App Store in the second quarter of 2022.

Between the lines: It is unclear to what extent inflation played a role in reducing the desire to spend money on games.

  • But the absence of major releases since a bumper winter harvest is striking.
  • Older games dominated NPD’s Top 10 games list in June with only one new release, Nintendo’s Mario Strikers: Battle League, making the top 10 (in the third slot).
  • February’s Elden Ring continues to top the charts, including June. It’s NPD’s best-selling game in the last 12 months, surpassing the most recent Call of Duty.

The bottom line: The numbers underscore the myriad impacts of a pandemic that had temporarily heightened the public’s appetite for gaming and continues to complicate people’s ability to create and sell stuff to play.

  • It’s no surprise that one analyst expects a small but rare contraction in the games market this year, before a return to growth.

Fun fact: NPD’s Mat Piscatella tells Axios that June saw the sale of a Nintendo DS, a console discontinued by its manufacturer many years ago.

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Sallie R. Loera