US Video Game Industry Generated $23.5 Billion in 2015, Increasing 5%

New report combines physical and digital sales to paint a more accurate picture of the industry's health.


One of the main critiques of the monthly reports from industry-tracking firm NPD Group is that they only cover new, physical sales. With digital playing a bigger and bigger part in the market today, missing out on the digital data isn't an ideal situation.

Today, the Entertainment Software Association and the NPD Group released a joint statement that covers US physical and digital sales for 2015. Whereas the NPD's retail-only report for calendar year 2015 showed a decline of 1 percent to $13.13 billion, the combined NPD and ESA numbers show that total US sales rose to $23.5 billion, up 5 percent from $22.4 billion in 2014.

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Game sales alone (which include physical, downloadable, mobile, DLC, and subscriptions) made up $16.5 billion, a seven percent increase from last year. Hardware sales accounted for the rest.

"The ubiquitous nature of playing and purchasing video games makes it more important than ever to track these activities accurately," NPD Group president Joanne Hageman said in a statement. "The industry's sales performance helped to make 2015 a banner year for video games; and we anticipate continued growth in multiple industry sectors for 2016."

In January, the ESA said people "deserve better" than NPD numbers alone, according to GamesIndustry International. "Gone are the days when the industry's growth and strength could be determined by retailers simply reporting packaged good sales," the group said. "Unfortunately, [NPD's numbers for 2015] continued to reinforce that traditional model at the expense of new areas where the industry is growing."

Today's release of the new figures appears to be NPD's response to the ESA's comments. It's not immediately clear if NPD and ESA will continue to report numbers together on a monthly basis.

The ESA also reported that the the video game industry added over $6.2 billion to the US economy in 2012, the most recent year that data was available for. The group also noted that employment in the video game sector rose by an annual rate of 9 percent from 2009-2012, which is more than 10 times the growth rate of the US job market. Additionally, in 2012, game developers earned an average of $95,000 per year, which was up from $90,000 in 2010. To date, the average video game industry employee earns about double the average US household income, the ESA said.

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