The NPD Group recently released their latest study covering video game sales within the U.S. It’s still a multi-billion dollar industry but one reported to have shrunk over this time last year.
Sales for the combined console hardware and console and PC software were down in March along the order of 3-4%, from $1.58 to $1.53 billion. Looking at games alone, the market reportedly shrank by some 16%. That sounds like terrible news…and it is, but mostly for the console market. NPD’s numers do not include digital downloads by default – only physical copies.
Considering the rampant growth of digital distribution services such as – primarily, but by no means exclusively – Steam, the drop of 16% in physical game sales doesn’t sound so bad. FADE, an industry group that analyzes the digital entertainment market says that Steam hit it big in 2010, with total revenues approaching a whopping $1 billion.
Top Selling Titles on Steam, by Estimated Gross Revenues in 2010
Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision) – $98.2 Million USD
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision) – $39.4 Million USD
Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve) – $36.0 Million USD
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Electronic Arts) – $25.4 Million USD
Sid Meier’s Civilization V (2K Games) – $21.9 Million USD
Portal (Valve) – $20.0 Million USD
Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks) – $17.0 Million USD
Metro 2033 (THQ) – $13.4 Million USD
Mafia II (2K Games) – $11.9 Million USD
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising (THQ) – $10.8 Million USD
There are definitely problems within the PC gaming market. Developers are targeting consoles first, and porting games over, leaving huge new advances in graphics technology completely untouched. Piracy is a problem, even as Steam shows that when you make buying games easy, people will come. Cloud services such as OnLive offer a window into one possible future where no one buys graphics cards anymore.
PC gaming has problems. For now, however, it’s alive and well. Blockbuster games are still coming out, and if the ridiculous new ARG surrounding the impending release of Portal 2 (which is first and foremost a PC game, even as it will be available on the PS3 and Xbox360) shows anything, it’s that people still love it.