Gaming fans in the United States didn’t shy away from spending on their hobby in the month before the launch of next-gen consoles. Instead, consumers opened their wallets for big sports games and Nintendo Switch in October. This once again led to year-over-year growth for games-industry spending in the U.S., according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.

October 2020 Dollar Sales, Millions Oct’19 Oct’20 CHG
Total Video Game Sales $3,358 $3,836 14%
Video Game Hardware $183 $259 41%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms) $3,054 $3,429 12%
Video Game Accessories $121 $148 23%

Gaming continues to prove its resilience in the face of tumultuous economic times for most people. Industry sales were up in October and the year-so-far compared to the same period in 2019.

“Consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached $3.8 billion in October 2020, 14% higher when compared to a year ago,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Mobile, subscription, hardware, and accessories were among the largest growth segments. Year-to-date spending totaled $37.5 billion, 20% higher than the same period in 2019.”

2020 Year-to-Date Dollar Sales, Millions 2019 YTD 2020 YTD CHG
Total Video Game Sales $31,260 $37,495 20%
Video Game Hardware $2,062 $2,542 23%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms) $27,798 $33,195 19%
Video Game Accessories $1,400 $1,757 25%

Let’s get to the software sales.

October 2020 NPD: Nintendo Switch leads hardware

NPD tracks physical sales at retailers, but it also gets digital data directly from publishers. But not every company participates. For example, Nintendo doesn’t share its first-party digital sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales, and Take-Two doesn’t always share its digital sales.

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank October 2020 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
2 3 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
3 NEW Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
4 NEW NHL 21 Electronic Arts
5 NEW Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Nintendo
6 2 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
7 8 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
8 9 Star Wars: Squadrons Electronic Arts
9 6 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
10 11 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Activision Blizzard (Corp)
11 10 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
12 12 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
13 5 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
14 1 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix (Corp)
15 14 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
16 13 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
17 17 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
18 4 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Activision Blizzard (Corp)
19 20 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 16 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo

It was another strong month for Nintendo software.

“Nine of the top 20 best-selling titles of October were published by Nintendo,” Piscatella said.

But EA Sports games FIFA 21, Madden NFL 21, and NHL 21 made up three of the top four spots on the chart.

FIFA 21

FIFA usually performs well on the NPD charts, but its October 2020 performance suggests the growing appeal of the brand in the United States.

“FIFA 21 was the best-selling game of October, the first time a FIFA franchise release has launched at No. 1 in the U.S. market,” Piscatella said. “FIFA 21 was the best-selling game of October on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms.”

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion launched October 29, which put it at the end of the reporting period. But it was still able to work its way near the top of the chart.

“Watch Dogs: Legion debuted as the third best-selling game of October, despite having only three days of sales tracking in the month,” Piscatella said. “Watch Dogs: Legion was the second best-selling game of the month on Xbox platforms, and third best-selling game of the month on PlayStation platforms.

NHL 21

October was also a strong month for EA’s hockey game.

“NHL 21 entered the charts as the fourth best-selling game of October,” Piscatella said. “Launch month dollar sales were the highest for an NHL release since the September 2015 launch of NHL 16.”

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Nintendo’s remote-controlled Mario Kart toy/game also debuted in October. This $100 bundle comes with an AR-powered car, and that price tag didn’t prevent it from getting off to a fast start.

“Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit ranked as the fifth best-selling game of October, and was the best-selling game on Nintendo platforms,” Piscatella said.

Best-selling games so far in 2020

Rank Last Month Rank Year-to-Date Ending October 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
3 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
4 3 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
5 5 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
6 6 Final Fantasy VII: Remake Square Enix (Corp)
7 7 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix (Corp)
8 10 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
9 11 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
10 8 Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Bandai Namco Entertainment
* Digital sales not included

Best-selling games of the last 12 months

Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending October 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order Electronic Arts
3 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
4 6 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 5 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
6 4 Madden NFL 20 Electronic Arts
7 8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
8 7 Pokémon: Sword* Nintendo
9 9 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
10 11 Final Fantasy VII: Remake Square Enix (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

October 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games

Rank Last Month Rank October 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Nintendo
2 1 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
3 2 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
4 3 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
5 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
6 4 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
7 7 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
8 9 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
9 6 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo
10 NEW Pikmin 3* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

October 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation games

Rank Last Month Rank October 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
2 3 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
3 NEW Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
4 5 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
5 NEW NHL 21 Electronic Arts
6 7 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 6 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 8 Star Wars: Squadrons Electronic Arts
9 4 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
10 1 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

October 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox games

Rank Last Month Rank October 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
2 NEW Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
3 2 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
4 NEW NHL 21 Electronic Arts
5 6 Star Wars: Squadrons Electronic Arts
6 5 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 8 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 4 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
9 1 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix (Corp)
10 3 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Activision Blizzard (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

GamesBeat Gift Guides: Everything we recommend this holiday season