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The hit-driven gaming business is like the tides, and February — lacking in major releases — was low tide.
Spending on digital games reached $959 million in February, according to sales-tracking firm SuperData Research. That’s down 5 percent from January. SuperData is a company that collects data about the industry to inform publishers and developers about trends in consumer behavior. Its analyst, Joost van Dreunen, believes the decline is attributable to the upcoming release of Titanfall for Xbox One and PC. He thinks gamers were holding on to their cash in anticipation of the sci-fi shooter, which debuted earlier this month. Despite the month-over-month decline, digital spending was up 17 percent compared to the same period in 2013. This shows that more of the multibillion-dollar gaming industry is moving online.
“With gamers anticipating the retail release of Titanfall in early March, digital console spending on full titles dropped in February,” explained Dreunen. “Combined with lower spending on social games, the digital games market totaled $959 million in sales in February.”
While spending on full games and downloadable content might have experienced a slight hiccup from January to February, the bigger negative trend is in subscription-based massively multiplayer online games. That sector saw a 24.5 percent decrease in revenue year over year to $110 million. That money is now going into free-to-play titles, which generated $473 million for a 23.6 percent increase.
As for full retail games on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo platforms, digital continues to absorb more consumer cash, and SuperData expects March will bear that out.
“We do expect a bump in digital sales for next month based on Titanfall’s season pass and Digital Deluxe package (PC only),” said Dreunen. The game is also available as a digital download on Xbox One.