Over Half of Americans Took Up Gaming in 2020, and There Were Some Big Winners

In its annual year in review report for video games and interactive media, Nielsen company SuperData found the industry has grown by 12 percent year-over-year. With professional sports, cinemas and other forms of entertainment of the picture, 55 percent of U.S. residents turned to gaming in the first phase of COVID-19 restrictions, and the momentum only continued from there.

Free-to-play games like Honor of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite brought in 78 percent of the revenue, and Asian markets accounted for the majority of these earnings. The highly-anticipated releases of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us: Part 2 buoyed the premium gaming segment, which grew by 28 percent over the course of the year. North America and Europe brought in 84 percent of premium games’ revenue.

Players were also getting their fix on streaming platforms. Gaming video content burgeoned to a $9.3 billion USD industry, thanks to 1.2 billion viewers. The report also found that games became a way for Americans to virtually connect with friends and family with 27 percent of respondents reporting that they turned to media like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Call of Duty: Warzone to stay in touch virtually.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in fact became the highest earning premium game of the year. With the introduction of Warzone, its free-to-play battle royale mode, the accessible entry point brought in more players who often purchased in-game content and later chose to upgrade to the full game. SuperData’s top 10 list of premium games in 2020, alongside their respective revenues, continues as follows:

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ($1.91 billion USD)
  • FIFA 20 ($1.08 billion USD)
  • Grand Theft Auto V ($911 million USD)
  • NBA 2K21 ($889 million USD)
  • NBA 2K20 ($771 million USD)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War ($678 million USD)
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($654 million USD)
  • Cyberpunk 2077 ($609 million USD)
  • The Sims 4 ($462 million USD)
  • Doom Eternal ($454 million USD)

The full report is available for free download via SuperData’s website.

2020 did deal a few blows to the gaming world. Microsoft announced yesterday it would discontinue Minecraft Earth on June 30 citing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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