You’ve heard the reports that more people turned to video games for entertainment and socialization in April. But now, industry-tracking firm The NPD Group is putting some more numbers to that narrative. Consumers in the United States spent $420 million on new Nintendo Switch, Xbox Ones, and PlayStation 4s last month. That represents a huge year-over-year increase. Gaming sales hit an overall record in April.
“Hardware spending in April 2020 grew 163% when compared to a year ago, to $420 million,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. “This is the highest total for an April month since the $427 million total achieved in April 2008. Year-to-date spending reached $1.2 billion, a 30% increase when compared to a year ago.”
Once again, the Nintendo Switch came out on top. The younger system hasn’t quite saturated the market like its older counterparts. It also doesn’t have a major next-generation upgrade coming this fall like with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. But while that would traditionally mean declining sales for PS4 and Xbox One — April wasn’t traditional.
“Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform of April in both unit and dollar sales,” said Piscatella. “Dollar sales of PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch each increased by more than 160% when compared to April 2019.”
A huge number of people who sat out the current generation of hardware chose April to finally jump in. But Nintendo Switch is still the most exciting console for current hardware shoppers. And the evidence of that is in the systems’ record-setting sales pace.
“Year-to-date dollar sales of Nintendo Switch are the highest of any hardware platform in U.S. history,” said Piscatella. “The previous high was set by the Nintendo Wii in the year-to-date period ending April 2009.
Accessories and game cards also saw a surge
Consumers didn’t just buy consoles and games. They also showed up for headsets, gamepads, and game cards (basically gift cards that many people use to buy digital games).
“Total April 2020 spending on accessories and game cards reached $384 million, increasing 49% when compared to a year ago,” said Piscatella. “Year-to-date spending has increased 8%, to $1.3 billion.”
Accessory spending jumped in part because of who was doing the spending in April. Families, friends, and roommates are all stuck at home together due to sheltering orders. And people are looking for entertainment to do together. That led to a huge jump for people buying second or third controllers.
“Gamepad spending set a new April month record, nearly doubling the previous high set a year ago,” said Piscatella. “The PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black was the best-selling gamepad of April, with the Switch Pro Controller ranking as the best-selling gamepad year-to-date.”
And even people who don’t have other people playing in their house still use games to socialize. To facilitate that, many U.S. consumers also picked up new gaming headsets for communication.
“Headset/headphone spending reached a new record April month high, with dollar sales doubling those of the previous high set in April 2018,” said Piscatella. “The Xbox One Ear Force Recon 70 Gaming Headset Black from Turtle Beach was April’s best-selling headset/headphone, while the Xbox One Ear Force Stealth 600 Wireless Headset is the best-selling headset/headphone year-to-date.”