A new report reveals consumer spending on digital games reached an all-time high in December 2019, increasing 8 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to $9.8 billion (£7.4bn).
In the report by SuperData, the analysis revealed that whilst console and PC sales fell – down 25 and 4 per cent respectively – mobile revenue saw a 28 per cent boost that “more than offset falling console and PC earnings”.
The analysts posit that console spending is down “partially due to shrinking Fortnite revenue (December 2018 was the title’s highest-earning month ever) and also due to fewer major premium games being released in late 2019 compared to the 2018 holiday season”. It is also likely that the winding down of the current-gen cycle impacted sales, too.
The report highlighted the success of a number of specific games, including Clash of Clans from Supercell, which “had its best month ever”, as well as a bumper year for Rockstar, following a boost in Grand Theft Auto 5 revenue – it’s best performing month since December 2017, earning $84.7m across console and PC – and the Steam release of Red Dead Redemption 2, which saw digital unit sales more than doubled from 406,000 in November to 1m in December.
“A gamble on a new business model paid off for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”, too, said the analysis. “Unlike past games in the franchise, Modern Warfare did not offer a season pass or paid map packs and monetized exclusively through battle pass sales and microtransactions,” the report said. “Despite this, Modern Warfare revenue in Q4 2019 was 4 per cent higher than Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 during its launch quarter. In December 2019, the first month Modern Warfare players could purchase in-game content, spending reached $78.7m, nearly as much as was spent on Black Ops 4 in-game content during that game’s entire first quarter ($92.9m).”
It’s not all been good news for Rockstar in 2019, though, after a tax watchdog recently revealed Rockstar has paid no Corporation Tax in the UK for four consecutive years. It also claimed the Grand Theft Auto 5 developer received £37.6 million via the UK’s Video Game Tax Relief fund in a single year.