The digital side of the gaming industry got a major boost from next-gen and the new releases in November.
Total digital sales for the game industry topped $1.06 billion for the month, according to industry-tracking firm SuperData Research. That figure includes mobile, social, and downloadable console and PC games, as well as expansions and subscriptions for titles like World of Warcraft. Digital sales are up 25 percent compared to Nov. 2012, and that’s primarily due to a huge uptick in the sales of full digital games on consoles and PC.
“A host of new releases in November triggered a spike in spending on, especially, console [digital content],” SuperData analyst Joost van Dreunen said. “Combined with PC, the console [digital-content] segment totaled $325 million in sales in November, up 41 percent from November last year.”
November saw the launch of the Xbox One from Microsoft and PlayStation 4 from Sony. Digital sales are further evidence that gamers — even on consoles — are turning away from retail in favor of the convenience of downloadable games.
So far, every PlayStation 4 and Xbox One title has launched simultaneously at retail and on the systems’ digital-distribution stores. SuperData notes that this is having a positive effect on digital sales in the console-game space.
“Several big franchises released [digitally] on the same day as the next-gen consoles,” said van Dreunen. “In particular, Call of Duty: Ghosts was immediately available via digital download on Xbox Marketplace and PlayStation Network.” In the past, Call of Duty games usually take a few months to appear on Xbox Live.
“Similarly, Need for Speed Rivals and the late-October release of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 drove overall sales,” said van Dreunen. “We expect this trend to continue for the remainder of the year.”
Outside of PC and console sales, social games earned a total of $169 million, free-to-play multiplayer titles earned $217 million, and subscription-based massively multiplayer games earned $81 million.
“The free-to-play category showed a significant drop in November, declining 17 percent month-over-month, totaling $217 million in sales,” said van Dreunen. “The overall size of the audience remained stable at around 45 million monthly active users, but the average spend per user declined 10 percent month-over-month.”
SuperData’s analyst believes the big retail games drew attention from some of the gamers who were previously spending time and money on free-to-play titles.
Mobile gaming had a positive month. The market earned more than $274 million in sales for November, according to SuperData. That’s up 4 percent compared to October and more than 34 percent year-over-year.