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Millions of Americans turned to video games as a source of entertainment and social connection in March. And that led to a significant increase in spending, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. The total U.S. video games business generated record spending of $10.86 billion during the first quarter. That’s up 9% over the same three-month period in 2019. Stay-at-home orders were a major factor in these results.

Spending on content alone reached $9.58 billion during Q1. That’s up 11% year-over-year. NPD’s data shows that spending was up for digital content on PC and console as well as for mobile and subscriptions. Separately, hardware and accessories also grew relative to the 2019 period.

When it comes to standout games, NPD reported a list of new and existing releases that saw growth. These include Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Grand Theft Auto V.

“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “As people have stayed at home more, they’ve utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends. Whether it was on console or mobile, PC or virtual reality, gaming experienced play and sales growth during the first quarter.”


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This jump in demand comes at the end of a console generation — at least for Microsoft and Sony. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are at the end of their runs. So even as consumers are spending more on gaming, hardware sales were down for those platforms year-over-year.

Nintendo Switch, however, offset those declines and led to a 2% increase in hardware sales to $773 million compared to Q1 2019.

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