Video game industry sees best March sales since 2008

Video-game sales exploded last month as the coronavirus forced millions worldwide to hunker down at home looking for something to do.

March spending on video game hardware, software and accessories jumped 35 percent from a year earlier to $1.6 billion — reversing a seven-month streak of declines to hit the highest March total since 2008, according to industry-tracking firm NPD Group.

The spike was fueled in large part by the Nintendo Switch, whose sales more than doubled last month versus a year earlier — even surpassing its initial sales when it launched in March 2017.

Indeed, the fastest-selling console in Nintendo’s history has become hard to get since the coronavirus started, with the console selling out at retailers like Walmart and Amazon. An Amazon listing for a used Switch, which normally retails for $300, was priced above the $500 mark on Tuesday, while a special “Animal Crossing” branded Switch was listed at $700 on eBay.

Nine of the top-10 best-selling games last month generated more sales than titles ranked similarly last year, with Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” leading the pack, edging out No. 2 “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” despite coming out in the second half of the month.

Shares of Nintendo are up more than 20 percent since “Animal Crossing” was released on March 20.

March of 2008, meanwhile, had been headlined by mega hits “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for the Nintendo Wii and “Guitar Hero 3.”

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter told The Post that much of the sales spike could be attributed to customers being stuck indoors, estimating that video gaming is up by 20 percent compared to where it was before the pandemic.

“Nintendo released a big game and they had parents who are locked in with their kids feeling guilty,” he said. “But the numbers shocked me.”

As video game sales grow, others are turning to gaming as a way to supplement their income. Players are using apps like Play One Up to gamble on games such as “NBA 2K,” “Fortnite” and “FIFA,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The app last month saw 10,000 one-on-one matches, a figure CEO of the app’s developer Brandon Pitts said is double its usual traffic. Similar app Players’ Lounge saw a 70 percent increase in matches and a 50 percent increase in new sign-ups, according to the Journal.

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