Bottom line: It has been clear for some time now that the gaming market has seen a boom over the last few of months. Stay-at-home orders have forced people to find things to do with their time indoors, and video games seem to be a go-to option. First-quarter numbers are showing just how significant an impact it has had on the industry.
The NPD Group reports that all three console makers have seen remarkable growth in Q1 2020. Total hardware sales for March alone ballooned to $461 million, while first-quarter spending on systems grew to $773 million, a 2-percent gain over last year.
March also saw total spending for hardware, software, accessories, and game cards reach nearly $1.6 billion, a 35-percent gain YOY, and the largest recorded March spend in 12 years.
"This is the highest reported spend for a March month since the $1.8 billion achieved in March 2008," said NPD's Mat Piscatella.
The Nintendo Switch was the big winner for the first quarter more than doubling year-over-year sales of the console. A large part of that came in the month of March.
"Nintendo Switch set a new all-time record for hardware unit sales in a March month," said Piscatella. "The previous high [was] set by Nintendo Switch in its March 2017 launch month."
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One also experienced gains of better than 25 percent YOY. This spike goes against a trend that has seen PS4 and XB1 sales decline over the last year as we head into the next generation of consoles.
Despite the incredible gains in the last month of Q1, total year-to-date spending for the quarter sits at $3 billion, a 4-percent decline compared to Q1 2019. Even still, the numbers do not account for the supply shortages we have seen, particularly with the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo announced it intends to boost production of the handheld by as much as 10 percent, which is an extra 2 million units over last year. However, from the looks of it, the company cannot guarantee suppliers are capable of the additional output. It is quite likely we will continue to see the consoles flying off shelves as fast as they are stocked for a while yet.