Skip to main content

US Gaming Spend Is On Track for a Record Year

The NPD Group market research firm released a report this week showing Americans have already spent a lot of money on video games in 2018. Video game revenue from the first half of the year is 43 percent higher than the first half of 2017. In the first six months of 2018, the video game industry generated $19.5 billion, and it could be on track to crest $40 billion this year. According to earlier data, this means the U.S. gaming market is on track to see its biggest year since 2010, if not longer. 

According to NPD Group’s report, Americans spent $16.9 billion on software, which includes games, expansion packs and purchasable content, such as loot boxes and seasonal passes. Mobile games brought in the lion's share of the revenue and saw the most growth. Candy Crush is the big winner in the mobile world, and Roblox, with its 15 million gamers, is also holding a spot near the top. Meanwhile, a handful of AAA titles also lead the charge. NPD Group singled out Far Cry 5 and God of War as two of the biggest new releases so far this year, while last year’s battle royale titans—Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds—are still holding their own, thanks to loot sales. 

“Video game industry spending in the U.S. showed strong growth in the first half of 2018, with content sales driving performance across all platform segments, including mobile, console, portable and PC,” Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at NPD Group, said in a statement. “Hardware and accessories also reflected strong performance, while the evolving segment of subscription spending has experienced an accelerated growth rate.”

NPD Group attributed $1.7 billion to hardware sales, which is a seven-year high. The report tracks game consoles, portable gaming devices, PCs and peripherals. Gamers spent twice as much money on gaming headsets this year than they did last year. NPD Group does not track sales of individual graphics cards, though, so the hardware figure should be much higher.

NPD Group also shares information breaking down gamers' purchasing habits. According to the data, in the first half of this year 28 percent of people ages 13 to 54 purchased additional content for at least one game, and 55 percent of those people bought an expansion pack. Of those who purchased items through in-game microtransactions, 31 percent bought weapons or tools, and 28 percent bought power ups of some sort. Approximately 37 percent of people who made purchases did so to have fun, and eight percent bought items to save time. Most gamers spent approximately $53 over the last three months. People who play more than 10 hours per week tend to spend and average of $64 on extra content.

The Rest of 2018

NPD Group is “optimistic for the remainder of 2018.” The research firm believes it’s conceivable to see “double-digit annual percentage gains for the total market.” There are a handful of big titles scheduled for the coming months leading up to the holiday season, such as Forza Horizon 4, Battlefield V, Fallout 76 and Just Cause 4. 

If games and other related products continue to sell at this pace, it’s conceivable that U.S. gamers could dump more than $40 billion on video games and related items before the end of the year.