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Worldwide Digital Gaming Spending Dips Slightly to $10.2 Billion in May

Fewer new game releases brought May gaming spending down $300 million, Nielsen’s SuperData says

Worldwide video game consumers spent $10.2 billion on digital video games in May, down slightly from $10.5 billion spent in April, Nielsen’s SuperData reports.

SuperData’s May report on global gaming spend found that fewer new game releases this month caused players to spend incrementally less cash on games than the prior month. “Games continued their lucrative streak in May even though the month had few major game releases and an easing of COVID-19 lockdowns,” SuperData noted in its report.

SuperData reported “digital console revenue fell 27% from April to May due to fewer new releases,” but noted that a rise in mobile gaming spend during May — roughly a 3% growth — helped offset the gap.

“Overall spending was still up 14% over May 2019 ($8.9B), with PC up 8%, mobile up 14% and console up 23%,” SuperData said.

A number of highly-anticipated console games release this June, including Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us Part II,” Riot Games’ first tactical shooter “Valorant” and a Nintendo Switch port of “The Outer Worlds.” These titles are expected to boost June’s total gaming spend from the prior month.

Riot Games’ “League of Legends” was May’s top-grossing title, retaining its first-place spot for a second consecutive month, while Electronic Arts’ “FIFA 20” soccer simulation game sold the most console copies in May.

May’s biggest new release was “Minecraft Dungeons,” a spinoff of developer Mojang’s classic bricklaying building game. “Minecraft Dungeons” gained 1.8 million players after its launch May 26 launch, but SuperData noted “elements of its business model limited its revenue potential” — including its low price (only $20) and the fact that it was offered immediately to any Xbox Game Pass subscribers (who pay a monthly subscription fee to access hundreds of on-demand games on the Xbox).

Numerous free game releases made players flock to new games in droves. “Fortnite” publisher Epic Games Inc. regularly gives away full video games for free on its PC marketplace, the Epic Games Store. Epic’s May free release of “Sid Meier’s Civilization VI” from developer Take-Two Interactive brought player counts up by 477%, SuperData found.

Epic also released limited-time free copies of another Take-Two title, “Grand Theft Auto V.” The demand for “GTA V” was so great the Epic Games Store crashed for almost an entire day, and SuperData said an influx of gamers looking to get the hit title brought May PC player counts up 245%. “PC revenue more than doubled as players purchased in-game content,” SuperData said, noting that despite this revenue surge the console version of “GTA V” still out-earns its PC counterpart roughly 4-to-1.

SuperData also found Niantic’s “Pokemon GO” spending rose roughly 60% month-over-month in May, thanks in part to Niantic’s increased efforts to make the game fun even if players can’t roam the outdoors in search of Pokemon to capture because of coronavirus. Niantic began selling remote paid passes in April, a way to help players join battles inside the game without seeking out remote locations.