While people might have been hyped for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, North American digital game spending experienced a 10 percent decline, according to data shared by SuperData.
Even though PC games spending increased by six percent year-over-year, there was a 13 percent decline in console earnings. Demand for the largely unavailable PS5 and Xbox Series X/S likely depressed spending on digital console games because a lot of consumers are waiting to purchase the new console before buying new games.
Additionally, with the growth of subscription services like Xbox Games Pass, which reportedly increased 216 percent year-over-year, there’s less of a reason for consumers to purchase new games. Xbox Game Pass works similarly to Netflix and allows users to play games that they don’t technically own for a relatively low monthly subscription fee.
While consumers aren’t buying new games, they are making more in-game purchases. According to SuperData, in-game content sales account for 89 percent of digital games revenue, with players spending money on vehicles for Grand Theft Auto Online and limited-time items in The Elder Scrolls Online and Apex Legends.
“Despite the lower numbers on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, spending on digital games is growing significantly this holiday season,” said Carter Rogers, the principal analyst at SuperData, in a recent statement. “Even individuals who might have bought physical games at brick and mortar retailers in a normal year are opting for the convenience and safety of downloading games.
Digital game purchases are expected to keep their momentum throughout the holiday season. Last year on Christmas, the amount spent on games online in North America was four times higher than the daily average during the rest of the year. While Black Friday sales were down, SuperData expects Christmas Day spending to be up in 2020 since some gamers will be getting the Xbox Series S or the PS5 digital, both lack a disc drive and require customers to download games online.
Looking into next year, major releases might cause a significant increase in spending. Titles like Halo Infinite, The Medium and Deathloop that were delayed in part due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and recently announced games like Horizon: Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok (official title yet to be released), should increase spending next year.