The video game industry has grown year-over-year for some time now, with gaming making up a larger part of people's entertainment spending now more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic shaped 2020 into a particularly unusual, but profitable, year for video games with folks spending a lot of time at home over the year. More people looking for a way to pass the time jumped into gaming, and sales numbers reflected that. Games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons reached huge sales milestones, and the console market as a whole saw billions in growth in 2020.
Certain facets of the console market were very hot in 2020, with new console offerings from Sony and Microsoft, as well as the continued success of the Nintendo Switch. The range of platforms available to gamers made the console market even more successful in 2020. The Nintendo Switch made up 87% of Japan's console sales in 2020, moving nearly 7 million units, and there was a time when finding one not on the secondary market was near impossible.
Now, as data has been compiled for 2020, a clear picture is starting to emerge that shows that people were console gaming a fair bit last year. Between hardware, software, and services (PS+, Xbox Game Pass) on console last year, total spending hit $53.9 billion; a 19% increase over 2019. The breakdown shows that despite Nintendo seeming to dominate the market, it was Sony that came out on top, taking in 46% of the year's total. This is mostly attributed to its larger user base of 114 million console owners versus the Switch with about 80 million. A growing percent of the revenue pie on consoles is in the services area, with more enticing additions to PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass making those services more appealing.
The services area is expected to grow in 2021, and with the announcement that Xbox Game Pass is getting a lineup of Bethesda titles, it should be fairly evident to see that big deals like this will bring customers into the subscription ecosystem. Xbox made up only about 23% of the $53.9 billion spent on consoles last year, so is surely hoping to cut into the lead a bit with some big acquisitions.
Game accessories already had a record January, so it seems that is no slowing down the gaming industry. Even as the hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is close to reaching its end is on the minds of many, the habits formed in 2020 are likely to keep console spending up in 2021 as well.
The launch of next-generation consoles in late 2020 has seemingly reignited the console wars between PlayStation and Xbox. It's a much friendlier style of console war than in decades past, but there's still a healthy competition. Sony understandably has the advantage, given it's carrying over PlayStation 4 momentum to the PlayStation 5. However, the Xbox Series X/S are well-position compared to the Xbox One. As evidence of that, Xbox won January's console sales in the United Kingdom.
GamesIndustry.biz head Christopher Dring reported the news on Twitter, saying the Xbox Series X/S was the best-selling console of January 2021. His comment suggests the number includes sales of both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. This would be the first month that Xbox's new console has won the sales totals, as it did not lead in either November or December 2020.
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