PS4 saw online spend increase more than 200% from March to April, and maintained its lead over Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Key Takeaways

• PS4 maintained a consistent lead since January, growing 218% between March 2nd April 6th, before sales gradually began to decline.

• First Person Shooter (FPS) games remain the most popular category except during mid-March when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released on the Nintendo Switch

• In May, Fortnite reclaimed its position as top game title in online spend, beating out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Back in March, as people moved indoors to comply with shelter in place policies, the search for ways to stay entertained at home skyrocketed. As previous Edison Trends research on pandemic sales shows, wine subscriptions, console video games, and online marijuana sales shot up, while rideshare usage dropped. Gaming consumers have an array of choices to stay occupied at home as they head into summer, whether rain or shine in the world outside. To understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on consumer purchase patterns across different gaming platforms, Edison Trends analyzed more than 900,000 transactions.

How has online spend across gaming platforms been affected by COVID-19?

Figure 1a: Chart shows estimated online spend across gaming platforms PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch, from January 6, 2020 - May 31, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Total spend includes full game downloads, downloadable content (DLC), virtual currency, add-ons etc.

Online spend on gaming began to show an uptick the week of March 9th, the same week that COVID-19 was declared a national emergency. The highest share of online spend across gaming platforms went to Playstation 4. It maintained a consistent lead since January, growing 218% between the week of March 2nd and its peak the week of April 6th, before sales gradually began to taper off. Nintendo Switch, whose business model relies more on purchases of the games themselves than on add-ons, was the platform with the lowest online spend in this analysis. However, it saw a big leap in spend of 221% the week of March 16th — likely due to its release of its new title Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That week saw spending on Nintendo Switch surpass that for both Xbox One and PC. As of the week of May 25, PS4 remained in first, with Xbox One following, then PC games, and finally Nintendo Switch.

Figure 1b: Chart shows estimated online spend by genre across gaming platforms PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, from January 6, 2020 - June 21, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: The highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. Total spend includes full game downloads, downloadable content (DLC), virtual currency, add-ons etc.

Spending on the simulator and adventure categories rose by 243% and 184% respectively the week of March 16, when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. This allowed those categories to briefly overtake the shooter category, which by the week of April 6 had retaken top place and remained there through the week of June 15, the end of the analysis period. As of that time, the adventure category was in second, followed by simulator and indie games.

What were the top selling games across gaming platforms in May?

Figure 2: Chart shows the top 10 games across the gaming consoles PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC and their change in rank during May 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: Ranking of the top games for the last completed month for total spend.

In the month of May, Fortnite reclaimed its place as the #1 game title in online spend across gaming platforms PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC — moving Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to second place. Grand Theft Auto V moved up two positions to rank as sixth highest in spend, whie Mortal Kombat 11 vaulted seventeen positions to ninth place.

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*The data shown is based on a sample of anonymized and aggregated e-receipts from millions of consumers in the United States.