What just happened? With gaming one of the main ways people are passing the time during lockdown, spending on digital titles has reached a record high. Games such as Doom Eternal saw huge sales last month, but it was Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons that led the pack.
According to Nielsen’s SuperData report, digital video game spending passed $10 billion in March. That’s an 11 percent increase compared to the same period last year, and a record high for a single month.
Overall spending on ‘premium’ PC games was up 56 percent, from $363 million to $567 million, while console titles were up 64 percent, jumping from $883 million to $1.5 billion.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest sellers in March was Bethesda’s Doom Eternal. The latest entry in the franchise sold 3 million digital copies last month, three times more than the 957,000 digital copies Doom 2016 sold in its first month of release.
Doom Eternal’s performance was outshone by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Nintendo Switch title sold a massive 5 million copies in March, a record for any console game, beating 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Superdata writes that New Horizons “roughly matched the first-month digital sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokemon Sword and Shield put together.”
Other games to benefit from the stay-at-home orders were Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which, thanks to the launch of Warzone, saw its active users increase 159 percent month-over-month to a record 62.7 million. And Half-Life: Alyx had 860,000 PC players—a massive number for a VR game.
Mobile titles also got a boost in March as revenue leaped 15 percent YoY to $5.7 billion. Pokémon GO continues to bring in the money for Niantic, with revenue up 18 percent from the previous month, reaching $111 million.
The figures are in line with another recent report on the game industry. Market data from GSD showed both console and game sales were surging in Europe following the Covid-19 lockdown.