Holiday Game Spending Frenzy Mostly Bypasses Console Sales

Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.
While Nintendo's Switch is still a relatively new console offering, having first launched in 2017, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debuted in 2013.

Purchases on in-home devices drove overall digital spending in the U.S. to a record $4.4 billion in one weekend, Nielsen's SuperData estimates.

Did a Black Friday to Cyber Monday digital video game frenzy help tamp down sales of an aging generation of consoles? Despite myriad bundle deals for Xbox One S ($150 discount) and PlayStation PS4 ($100 discount), there were no "meaningful hardware sellouts" from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, per Wedbush Securities.

But while many gamers bypassed brick-and-mortar retailers, purchases on in-home devices drove overall digital spending in the U.S. to a record $4.4 billion in one weekend, Nielsen's SuperData division estimates.

The figure represents a 9 percent bump year-over-year. Launched in October and marked down from $60 to $38, Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was the weekend's top item on the software side, Wedbush found.

Nintendo led on the console side with its $299 Switch console bundle alongside racing game Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a repeat of 2018's deal that amounts to a roughly $60 value.

"In previous years, you'd have a handful of publishers and platforms feverishly looking to win favor from a narrow and homogeneous consumer group. Today a broad variety of content creators cater to a diverse audience," notes Nielsen's SuperData managing director Joost van Dreunen.

Digital marketplaces continue to be the venue of choice for gamers, as a recent study by SuperData shows that 42 percent of consumers do the majority of their spending digitally, while only 16 percent prefer physical purchases.

While the Switch is still a relatively new console offering, having first launched in 2017, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debuted in 2013. Wedbush's report notes that Nintendo's dominance over the holiday kickoff is a "reflection of the consoles from Microsoft and Sony feeling a bit long in the tooth." 

Nintendo’s success over Black Friday also punctuates its dominance over the console market in 2019, where the Switch has been the bestselling hardware offering.

This story appears in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.