Jul 15, 2022 - Technology

U.S. gaming sales slump in first half of 2022

Video game screenshot of multi-armed crowned giant who is swinging a huge axe

Elden Ring. Screenshot: FromSoftware

Spending on video games in the U.S. declined 10% compared to the first half of 2021, down to $26.3 billion, tracking firm NPD reported Friday.

Why it matters: The market is cooling, due in part to temporary factors like a lack of major game releases and constraints capping console supply.

Details: Most major categories dropped when comparing the first half of 2022 to 2021.

  • Game content spending is down 10%.
  • Hardware spending is down 9%.
  • Accessories are down 14%.
  • Subscriptions were the only major category with a spending increase, but NPD hasn't made the exact figure public.

Mobile gaming has also been taking a hit.

  • Tracking firm Sensor Tower says spending on mobile games was down 10.7% in June, compared to the same month a year ago.
  • The drop was on Google Play, with a slight increase on Apple platforms.
  • Thursday, Sensor Tower reported that for the first time spending on non-gaming apps overtook spending on games in Apple’s U.S. app store during the second quarter of 2022.

Between the lines: It's unclear how much inflation has played a role in curtailing the desire to spend money on games.

  • But the lack of major releases since a winter bumper crop is striking.
  • Older games dominated NPD’s top 10 game list for June with only one new release, Nintendo’s Mario Strikers: Battle League, cracking the top 10 (in the third slot).
  • February’s Elden Ring keeps topping the charts, including in June. It is NPD's best-selling game for the last 12 months, outpacing the most recent Call of Duty.

The bottom line: The numbers underscore the myriad impacts of a pandemic that had temporarily intensified the public’s appetite for games and continues to complicate the ability of people to create and sell stuff to play.

  • It’s no surprise that one analyst is expecting a small but rare contraction in the gaming market this year, before a return to growth.

Fun fact: NPD’s Mat Piscatella tells Axios that June saw the sale of one Nintendo DS, a system discontinued by its manufacturer many years ago.

Sign up for the new Axios Gaming newsletter here.

Go deeper