Gamers Are Spending More on Consoles, But Less on Games

The scalping situation that surfaced when the PS5 and Xbox Series X launched in November 2020 has caused a dearth of hardware for legitimate consumers. Despite this, both Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have reported extremely high sales numbers for their latest consoles. In little over a year, 17.3 million PS5 consoles have been sold, passing sales numbers accumulated by the Nintendo Wii U during its entire five-year existence.

The console shortage is expected to continue through 2022 and, judging by social media, many people have stopped actively trying to buy the new hardware. One potential positive is that the Xbox Series X and PS5 shortage may result in a longer generation than usual. Some gamers love to upgrade their gear frequently, while others remain content with their PS4 and Xbox One consoles. And because many people won’t be able to get their hands on current-gen hardware for quite a while yet, gamers might not be interested if another console generation launches too soon.


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The NPD Group, which analyzes consumer trends in a range of industries, recently released some data on consumer spending in the video game space, from January 2021 to January 2022, and the numbers might be surprising to some. Despite, the ongoing shortage of current gen consoles like the Xbox Series X, sales of gaming hardware have still grown by 22% in the past year. In the same time period, sales of video game accessories has declined by 15%, and software sales have decreased by 4%. This last number includes physical and digital full game purchases, as well as DLC and subscription services across all platforms — console, cloud, mobile, portable, PC, and VR.

Upon first glance, those numbers might seem to be due to the greater number of gamers subscribing to services like Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, or Nintendo Switch Online. However, the data provided by NPD Group includes subscriptions, and those have apparently also declined in the past year. This is in contrast to previous numbers, particularly during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when consumer video game spending increased drastically, breaking sales numbers for many gaming companies. As recently as Q3 2021 (July – September), sales on games, hardware, and accessories was up by 7% when compared to the same time period in 2020.

Although the data might lead some to believe that gaming is on a decline in general, it’s important to remember that the market constantly fluctuates due to a variety of factors. Overall, for example, spending on PC gaming hardware and accessories has increased from 2020 numbers by 25%, although NPD Group expects that to decrease by 4% in 2022, mainly due to the abnormally large spike in sales during the pandemic.

MORE: Xbox Series X Will Be A Must-Have for Console Gamers By the End of 2022

Sources: NPD Group 1, 2

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