In the Wake of COVID-19, Video Games Are Having a Moment
22 Jun, 2020By: Michael Popke
Not every sports-starved fan tunes in when cable networks rebroadcast classic games. After all, how many World Series Game 7s can you watch when you already know the outcome?
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Front Office Sports recently reported that video game sales so far in 2020 are the strongest since 2008. Total sales of hardware, software and accessories totaled $977 million in May — a 52 percent increase over last May. In May 2008, the industry racked up $1.2 billion in sales.
Year-to-date video game industry sales are $5.5 billion, 18 percent higher year-over-year, and the highest total since sales were $5.7 billion in 2011.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto V and Animal Crossings: New Horizons were May’s top three bestselling games, as tallied by The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based company that provides insight and analysis of the video game industry.
“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group, said in a statement. “As people have stayed at home more, they’ve utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends. Whether it was on console or mobile, PC or virtual reality, gaming experienced play and sales growth during the first quarter [of 2020].”
The explosion in video game sales comes as more colleges and universities not only are launching esports programs, but also relying on them to keep students engaged when they’re not on campus by hosting virtual tournaments with Madden NFL, FIFA, Rocket League and other games. “We knew esports was popular with a segment of our student body, and we saw this as an opportunity to attract students who may not have been attracted to intramural sports in the past,” Scott Flickinger, intramurals director at Cornell University’s Recreational Services Department, recently told Athletic Business magazine.