The U.S. games market is in decline compared to 2021, according to The NPD Group. Spending on content, hardware and accessories fell 8% from the same period last year, although the market is still above pre-pandemic levels.
Why is the US gaming market in decline?
As the NDP’s Mat Piscatella points out in a Twitter feed, spending in the US gaming market has likely declined due to a number of factors. Piscatella cites a “return to experiential spending”, or spending on experiences as opposed to possessions, as one of the reasons. He also points to the ongoing hardware shortage (which recently forced Nintendo to cut its spending forecast by 10%), as well as the 2021 stimulus package tied to the rising cost of living. According to Piscatella, overall spending reached $13.9 billion for the first quarter of 2022, down 8% from a year ago. Content spending fell 7%, hardware sales fell 15% and accessories fell 16%.
However, all is not bleak for the gaming market. The market is still trending “well above pre-pandemic levels”, according to Piscatella. As he points out, experiential events, such as eating out or going to the movies, were unavailable for much of 2021, so gaming spending will understandably be higher. Additionally, stimulus checks sent to help US citizens struggling with the economic consequences of COVID-19 will also have led to increased spending, so while the 2022 numbers represent a drop, you shouldn’t worry too much about that. .
What were the best-selling games in the first quarter of 2022?
As you might expect, From Software’s Ring of Elden, which has sold 12 million copies in less than a month of being on sale, is the best-selling game of the first quarter of 2022. The Nintendo Switch is the best-selling hardware of the quarter in terms of units , although Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S line led sales in total consumer spending, likely thanks in large part to the runaway popularity of Xbox Game Pass. The PS5 is entirely absent from all of the hardware top spots, though that could be largely down to the difficulties of getting both models (with Xbox Series S still widely available in many areas).
Piscatella says that in terms of content, subscription services was the industry’s largest growth segment, with “single-digit” percentage gains from the first quarter of 2021. Again, that’s almost certainly due to the huge popularity of Xbox Game Pass, although other services like Nintendo Switch Online have likely contributed as well. This success is also likely to be a big factor in Sony’s recent decision to overhaul its PlayStation Plus service to offer additional tiers with additional games and cloud streaming features. We’ll tell you more about the state of the gaming industry in 2022 as soon as we have it.