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Analyst: US game spend jumps during COVID-19 pandemic as more are encouraged to stay home

March made for an interesting month in terms of game spending according to data shared in The NPD Group’s quarterly report,

March made for an interesting month in terms of game spending according to data shared in The NPD Group’s quarterly report, with the analyst firm naming last month the best March since 2008 in terms of game spend in the United States across hardware, software, and accessories combined. 

It is worth mentioning that not all platforms report sales numbers to The NPD Group, so for digital game sales the numbers paint an incomplete picture of the industry as a whole. But even with those gaps, the NPD Group’s report shares an interesting look at how spending has shifted both month-to-month and year-to-year given the recent impact of COVID-19 on daily life.

Both January and February of 2020 saw year-over-year declines in game spending: down 26 percent for January and 29 percent for February. For March, the month where many states first deployed stay-at-home orders, the NPD Group reported $1.6 billion in total spending across hardware, software, and accessories.

“With schools closing and shelter-in-place orders going out across multiple states, US consumers' habits reflect the need to live primarily indoors for the foreseeable future,” explains a statement from NPD Group games president Rob Liguori. “While steep transaction declines are being seen across multiple industries during the pandemic, consumer spend on entertainment is strong, especially in video games.”

Per category, the NPD Group reports that spending on accessories and game cards saw the biggest bump in March and rose 63 percent year-over-year, while hardware was up 34 percent and game sales up 12 percent.

For physical game sales plus digital sales for the platforms included in tracking, game software sales reached $739 million for just March, the month’s highest total since 2011, and 9 of the top 10 games for the period saw higher dollar sales than comparable top 10 sellers from 2019’s March report. More on those trends, plus data for the full quarter, can be found on The NPD Group’s website.  

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