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Despite increasing competition from China, North America is still the most valuable video games market in the world. Greg Lockley goes stateside to discover what’s changed over the last 12 months


usiness is booming across the Atlantic as the USA remains the most valuable

video games market on the planet. In 2013 alone, US analyst NPD

found the games market (physical and digital combined) generated $21.53bn (£12.9bn) in revenue – a figure that ranks well ahead of second place China, which topped $13bn (£7.8bn) last year. Despite the latter boasting the highest number of gamers in the world at 173.4m these Chinese consumers are spending just half of the $16.50 (£9.90) spent on average by gamers in North America each month. And with a population in excess

of 314m it’s hardly surprising to see the US games market flying as 59 per cent of all Americans play video games. In fact, the average US household contains two gamers and at least one dedicated games console, PC or smartphone. It’s a steady return to growth

for the US games market, which suffered a minor decline in 2012. Over $15.4m (£9.2bn) was spent on games content (digital and physical) last year – a small increase over the $15.2bn (£9.1bn) recorded for 2012. Much of this can be contributed

to the blockbuster launch of Grand Theft Auto V and the introduction of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We all know that the latest instalment in Rockstar’s hit franchise went on to become the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time and generated over $1bn in just three days. But GTA V proved a much- needed shot of adrenaline for the US market. Industry analyst

NPD found that the title caused a 27 per cent rise in total industry sales in September 2013 and a whopping 52 per cent boost to sales in the console and portable software sector. In fact, GTA V was responsible for over 50 per cent of dollar sales in the entire month.

NEXT-GEN SUCCESS It wasn’t just GTA V that boosted the US market though. As expected, the launch of PS4 and Xbox One also contributed to the rise in console sales. Just 24 hours after its launch,

Sony announced the PS4 had already sold 1m units in the USA


Revenue generated by the physical and digital US games market in 2013

alone. Microsoft scored a double victory in the States as the Xbox One and Xbox 360 scored sales of 908,000 and 643,000 consoles respectively last year. But despite being the best-selling hardware of December, Xbox One was still out-performed by the PS4, which remains the cumulative leader for next-gen consoles sales in the US – a role reversal over the previous generation. Yet, despite the success of the PS4 and Xbox One, it was actually Nintendo that took the crown for the best-selling console in the US.

63 June 6th 2014

According to NPD, the 3DS was not only the best-selling console of December 2013 but of the entire year. Despite this growth, the US

market still remains well short of the golden age experienced back in 2010 where unit sales topped an eye-watering $17.1bn (£10.2bn) according to a report by US video game trade body Entertainment Software Association (ESA). These statistics also support the well-established sales decline of physical video games. 2013 was the

sixth consecutive year of decline in the number of boxed products sold at retail in the US as stores shifted just 159.8m units – a steep drop-off from the 188m units sold the previous year and the 245.9m sold in 2011. A closer look at these figures

reveals the clear split between the revenue generated by physical and digital products.

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