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.

46 Comments

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.

No Caption Provided

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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Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

Healthy numbers !! Good to see the Industry Growing !!

Avatar image for straightcur
straightcur

$23.5 Billion... How will this struggling industry ever survive? We need to up the price of games and fill them with more and more DLC and Season passes. Please cut back further on testing and QA. Your customers should be willing to accept buggy and broken products to help you survive. Come on everyone, place your next preorder on an unfinished game today. The industry needs your help to survive.

Avatar image for hystavito
hystavito

@straightcur: It's unsustainable, there's no way they can keep making games! :)

Side note for anyone, every damned industry says that from time to time whenever they want a regulation or tax or something changed, or to ease consumers into changes. If we don't get this or that thing we won't be able to stay in business, the industry will collapse and you won't get anymore games, pizza, cars, TV, whatever.

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17
rosinmonkekyx17

@straightcur: I smell

Sarcasm

Avatar image for beantownsean
BeantownSean

Video game industry is very volatile (layoffs); not a place I'd want to be with kids.

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@beantownsean: It's no more volatile than any other industry. Try reading the business section of the news more often.

Avatar image for louixiii
LouiXIII

After this year it will be up 10-15%

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

The USA isn't the biggest market anymore, China just pips it(literally just).

1. China 2. USA 3. Japan 4. South Korea 5. Germany 6. UK 7. France 8. Canada 9. Spain 10. Italy

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@kyelo: Source? This article is about US sales not how any region compares.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@magnusstorm: Can't you find out for yourself ?

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@ltjohnnyrico: That other person made the claim and I asked for their source. An educated person would say the onus of proof falls to the person that claimed the fact but that's not something you should worry your petty little mind about.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

An educated person would find out themselves !!

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@ltjohnnyrico: I asked and explained the concept of burden of proof to you. You're still being a petty, ignorant child. Stop being a bad.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@magnusstorm: A Bad ? .. nearly made sense !! Look below I posted a source for you .. found a few more actually .. quite interesting reading !!

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@ltjohnnyrico: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-10-15-china-now-leads-the-world-in-game-revenues-newzoo

one of a few sources .. Itl take seconds to find out .. info as of OCT 2015 .. I believe more recent info is at hand !!

Avatar image for deactivated-5ae060efb3bf6

Oh no, better tax the heck out of it.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

I spend thousands each year on gaming for me & my family, and less than 10% of that is physical media now. The only gaming items worth buying in physical form are things like Lego Dimensions, where you have a physical asset that is part of the game. (Selling used games is pointless, and doesn't help the developers whatsoever.)

NPD has staked its diminishing relevance alongside Gamestop's fate: soon to be completely irrelevant.

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@Pyrosa: NPD has not tied physical releases fate to Gamestop's fate. A growing market doesn't mean other markets become completely irrelevant. In the real world we are able to have multiple, healthy distribution options. The article states that it would be a mistake for publishers to ignore digital media not that physical media is becoming completely irrelevant.

NPD has a bit more sense than to use extremes like you have.

Avatar image for sargentpsgamer
sargentpsgamer

@Pyrosa: Considering pretty much every single game has a "season pass" or some sort of content to purchase beyond the core game, I do not agree. Giving a consumer access to your game is just as important as selling it. Why do you think EA is giving away so many games on EA Access? You really think people deserve those games for 5 dollars? No. EA gets you to play them, then entices you to buy season passes, dlc, or HUB packs. Their money comes with you having access to buy more within the game.

It's the same formula that "free" to play uses. So yes having used games is a positive thing for developers.

Avatar image for wretch1d
Wretch1d

@Pyrosa: If they passed on the cost saving of digital only (ie; No printing, packaging, handling transport, retail costs etc) i might think about buying digital, but right now most of the time i get physical games for less than digital

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Given this includes the bloated mobile market, this doesn't actually sound very encouraging.

Avatar image for yukushi
yukushi

The business practices for the big publishers like ubisoft and activision is going to mess up the industry in the long run releasing the same games every year with some slight adjustments then on top of that charging you for dlcs should be free plus microtransactions is just pissing people off, the only thing you should charge customers for is expansions.

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@yukushi: The industry is 40 years old. Ubisoft, Activision, and whoever you want to take issue with haven't messed up the industry. This industry isn't perfect and will have business models that you dislike and maybe even some that are technically illegal but you know what happens in time? Wheels keep turning. People adjust. The "bad" ideas are ousted and the "good" ideas rise to the time. This happens in every field. There are no universal shoulds or should not's outside of what is legal. If you don't like something then don't buy it. If enough people don't buy something then that will change but do keep in mind that others won't agree on what's a good idea.

Maybe you leave gaming. Okay. With your attitude you'll leave lots of things because you think you know how things should run despite no power to control the direction a business goes in.

Avatar image for Abomination713
Abomination713

"But we need to nickle and dime you on everything cause we just don't make enough money. Please buy our worthless season passes to help feed our families" - Publishers.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@Abomination713: I agree with MagnusStorm completely !! You need to go and learn about business .. may stop you from posting this sort of comment !!

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@Abomination713: Business. When you go to school you will learn basic things that help promote, market, and increase sales. Making bank is what businesses do. If you have a problem with that then maybe you should go to a 3rd world country to take care starving and truly poor. I suspect your lamenting only goes as far as being upset that your video games cost money.

-Dumb world problems.

Avatar image for berserker66666
berserker66666

@Abomination713: More like "Help feed our third gas guzzling Ferrari"

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@berserker66666: Successful businesses can make billions of dollars. Oh the shame.

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

@Abomination713: Their greed will be their downfall. Sooner or later, people will wake up and Babel's Tower will come crashing down unless they revise their many anti-consumer practices.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@cboye18: Why would you want that ? Why want any business to be less successful ? I have shares in a number of businesses and the better they do the better I do (As do many others) .. Maybe understand business before you post crap !!

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@cboye18: Sooner or later. Sure kid.

You might want to stop using terms that you don't really understand.

Avatar image for drizzygadget
DrizzyGadget

NPD and ESA releasing physical and digital numbers each month would be a welcomed change. Make it happen.

Avatar image for Saidrex
Saidrex

@drizzygadget: private companies are not obligated to release those numbers to public, it's doubtfull they would

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Saidrex: They should be obligated. Imagine if movie studios could "decline" to release box office numbers.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@Thanatos2k: They should be obligated ? .. Why ? if they are "Private Companies" .. Would you want your private data be made public?

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@ltjohnnyrico: Apply that same terrible argument to movies.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@Thanatos2k: Not really a terrible argument is it .. there are publicly traded companies that release info that they are legally required to, other entities do not .. Simple .. Private vs Public isn't a very difficult concept to grasp !!

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@ltjohnnyrico: Oh, so video game companies like Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Activision are not publicly traded companies?

Tell me more.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@ltjohnnyrico: You said publicly traded companies release info, but all those companies are publicly traded and do not release sales info for their storefronts.

So I guess your arugment was just crap. But sure, try insults, that might magically make what you said make sense.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@Thanatos2k: They release what they have to !! They file accounts publicly .. They have to as the Public can hold shares in the company !! Its not the science of rockets champ !! I'm sure you can figure this out for yourself !!

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@ltjohnnyrico: As I said before, movie theaters don't "have" to release their sales, but they do anyways.

Avatar image for magnusstorm
magnusstorm

@Thanatos2k: Nothing would happen. Nothing happens because box office numbers are released. You bring up movie studios but they aren't the ones reporting video sales(Box Office sales is kind of apples to oranges here) and they don't tell you about digital sales either.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@magnusstorm: But in this case Steam, Sony, Microsoft, and such are the box office. They should be reporting their digital sales numbers of the products they sell. Just like movie theaters report the amount of product they sell. They don't HAVE to, yet they do anyways.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@Thanatos2k: They absolutely COULD do that, if they thought it was in their best interest.

"Obligated" implies "Regulated" -- just so you're thinking clearly here. You don't REALLY want the feds involved in gaming here...

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

@Saidrex: And so the naysayers and alarmists can continue to maintain and spread their propaganda. I just hope that the people with power don't listen to them unreflectively.