The videogame market at the time of the Coronavirus: the impact of the pandemic on digital, physical and hardware sales

Reports that emerged throughout the week speak of an increase in interest in video games as people around the world are stuck due to the Coronavirus.

Whether it’s a sharp increase in Twitch viewership, a huge increase in concurrent Steam users, or surprising sales of the new Animal Crossing, interactive entertainment has become paramount in this difficult time.

GamesIndustry.biz analyzed the most recent market data from GSD, which tracks the digital sales of 16 major game companies in nearly 50 European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries. It also tracks physical sales (hardware and software) across 17 territories, so you can analyze how blocking measures affect both physical and digital markets.

Overall in all monitored markets, 4.3 million games were sold during week 12 (Monday, March 16 – Sunday, March 22), a 63% increase over the previous week. Part of this is due to the launch of a major new game from Nintendo, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is popular in several markets. But even with homogeneous comparisons, the market still showed 44% growth compared to the same period a week earlier.

So video game sales are definitely increasing due to the outbreak of the virus.

Across all 50 markets, 2.74 million games from participating publishers were downloaded during week 12 (Monday, March 16-22), a 52.9% jump from the previous week.

This is despite the fact that the digital sales of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom: Eternal – the big news of the week – are not included in these figures (neither Bethesda or Nintendo share their downloads).

In the markets that went into lockdown last week, this digital spike is even more significant. In France, which went “en bloc” on Tuesday, March 17, digital downloads increased by more than 180% at week 12 (Monday, March 16-22). Spain went into lockdown on Saturday March 14 and during week 11 (Monday March 9-15) its digital sales increased by 142.8% and then increased again in week 12 by 23.3%.

Italy is the country that is having the longest blockade, since 9 March. For the first week of the block, digital download sales increased 174.9%. During the second week of the lockdown, digital download sales fell 11.7% week over week, but this is still way ahead of our country’s normal levels.

In terms of markets that were not on the block but in the “social distancing” phase, there has still been an increase in digital downloads. In the UK, digital downloads were up 67.4% week over week, which is before the country went on lockdown. Germany saw a 60.2% increase in digital sales and Australia saw a 26.5% increase in downloads.

Across all 17 physical retail markets, game sales increased 82% on a weekly basis to 1.58 million titles sold during week 12 (Monday, March 16-22). Even if we subtract Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom: Eternal from the data, physical game sales are still up 10.8% from the previous week.

Unsurprisingly, markets that were practicing social distancing, and not in full bloc, performed best. In the UK during week 12, physical game sales increased 218.2% week over week. This is mainly due to the launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom: Eternal, but even if we don’t count these games, physical game sales are still up 83%.

Australia saw similar results, with physical sales up 278.5% with Doom and Animal Crossing and 86.7% without. This suggests that consumers have decided to buy physical goods in preparation for the upcoming lockdown.

In markets in full lockdown, the results are mixed. In France, physical sales increased by 70.2% with Animal Crossing figures and by 1.5% without the game. Meanwhile, the UK posted higher sales for its block week (Sunday 22 March – 28 March).

But an indicator of problems for the physical market can be seen in Spain and Italy. In Spain, physical sales fell 5.1% on a weekly basis with Animal Crossing and nearly 50% without the game.

Meanwhile, in the week before the lockdown, the Italian physical games market grew by 8.4%. Sales during the first block week (Week 11) fell by 8.7%. In the second week of the lockout (Week 12), the figure fell again by 21.8%. By taking out Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Week 12 physical sales fell by 48%.

If the trend in Spain and Italy is mirrored elsewhere, stores may face a drop in sales of up to 50% in the second week of total lockdown.

For week 12 (Monday, March 16-22), console sales increased 155% to 259,169 machines sold.

These sales seem less affected by the lockdown situation. During the first week of the lockdown in Italy, console sales increased by 84%. In the second week of lockdown, console sales fell slightly by 1.8%. In Spain, during week 11 (Monday, March 9-15), when the blockade went into effect, sales increased by 27.7%. The following week, sales were up again by 66.1%.

During the first lockout period in France, hardware sales increased 140.6% week over week.

In terms of countries practicing social distancing, likely in preparation for the lockdowns, sales of console hardware have soared even more. In the UK, during week 11 sales improved by 126.6% and then in week 12 there was a 250% increase. In Australia, Week 11 saw gaming machine sales increase by 19.6% and then Week 12 sales jumped again by 285.6%.

Such has been the spike in console sales over the past two weeks that the console hardware market has almost completely returned to high levels after suffering severe dips for two months.

The increase in sales suggests that there are now a large number of new console owners due to the blockade imposed by the Coronavirus emergency.

What do you think of these data?

Source: Gamesindustry.biz.