Some people hate seeing physical crap pile up in their space, which is one of the reasons digital gaming had a huge month in December.
Digital-game spending in the U.S. reached $1.2 billion last month, according to industry-tracking firm SuperData Research. That’s up 11 percent from the same period in 2013. SuperData credits the consoles as well as mobile for the growth, but it also points out that the continued decline of social gaming on platforms like Facebook is putting some drag on the market.
“Mobile and digital console grew 17 percent and 10 percent in [December], respectively,” SuperData chief executive Joost van Dreunen said. “Social gaming, on the other hand, is showing a 10 percent decline, totaling $184 million in sales compared to $204 million a year earlier.”
Digital’s strength on console came largely from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And while physical games dominated the charts in November, digital was up big to end the year as many people cashed in gift cards to pick up new games.
“Totaling $110 million in sales, digital [game revenue] on both the PS4 and Xbox One jumped as the year came to a close,” said van Dreunen. “Compared to November, both platforms sold on average 12-times more full game downloads. But obviously, they did so at a lower-than-usual price. The monthly average transaction value on PS4 dropped from $20 to $11, and from $21 to $7 on the Xbox One.”
That is likely due to the end-of-year sales and deals Microsoft and Sony had on their systems as well as increased spending on lower-priced indie games.
Mobile gaming, meanwhile, is starting to show signs of maturity. That means increased spending, but it also means slower growth in terms of the number of gamers participating.
“If you asked Santa, he’d say the mobile games market had been both naughty and nice to publishers this season,” said van Dreunen. “During the holidays, the overall user base for mobile gaming tends to grow in absolute numbers but has now started to show early signs of saturation. In December 2014, the monthly active user base in the United States grew 8 percent, from 264 million in 2013 to 287 million. A year before, the mobile game audience jumped 20 percent, up from 218 million in December 2013.”
So clearly, the mobile market in the U.S. is starting to reach a saturation point. Even if iPhones and iPads continue to sell well, it looks like most of those devices are going to the same people.
“The goods news is that mobile game spending hit a new record with the average monthly spend across the entire mobile-gaming audience, reaching $1.41 per person in December,” said van Dreunen.