In the United States, the pandemic dictates what our lives can look like. Even as some states attempted to reopen, many are going back on lockdown. The prospect of movie theaters, comedy venues, or concert halls opening up through the end of the year is laughable. So people — at least those who still have work — are turning to video games to find some source of entertainment and social connectivity. That has led to a 25% year-over-year increase in hardware sales through the first half of 2020, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.
“Year-to-date spending has increased 25% compared to a year ago to $1.6 billion,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella.
But hardware actually slipped last month for the first time since the pandemic picked up momentum earlier this year. We reported the software results here.
“Hardware spending declined 17% in June 2020 when compared to a year ago, to $191 million,” Piscatella said. “This is the first month of year-on-year declines since February.”
This dip likely comes as a result of most families picking up hardware in April or May. The hardware market was largely saturated for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by the start of 2019. Consoles sales were slowing in preparation for the launch of Xbox Series X and PS5 this holiday.
As usual, it was the younger Nintendo Switch that came out ahead in June sales. “Nintendo Switch was once again the best-selling hardware platform of June in both unit and dollar sales,” Piscatella said.
Console spending shouldn’t overshadow demand for video games
While console sales slowed in June, that’s not the real story. People aren’t losing interest in video games, and you can tell by glancing at the accessory and game cards results. (Game cards are essentially gift cards for digital stores like the Nintendo eShop.)
“June 2020 spending on video game accessories and game cards reached $417 million, increasing 29% when compared to a year ago,” Piscatella said. “Year-to-date spending has increased 15%, to $2 billion. Both dollar sales totals represent all-time highs.”
People who already bought the consoles are still desperate for ways to play with family and friends. That’s leading them to purchase new gamepads or communications headsets.
“New dollar sales records for a June month were set across a number of accessories categories including gamepads, headsets/headphones, steering wheels, and controller enhancements,” Piscatella said. “The Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the best-selling accessory of June and 2020 year-to-date in terms of dollars sales.”