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Photo: Nintendo

Consumer spending on video game hardware, software and accessories rose to $28.9 billion for the first half of 2021, up 15% from the same time last year, according to the NPD group.

Why it matters: The easing of pandemic-related lockdowns in the U.S. hasn't stopped the boom in gaming, which began with the onset of COVID-19 last year.

  • If anything, the pandemic is now holding back hardware spending, as console manufacturing, impacted by supply chain disruptions, is keeping supply well short of demand.

By the numbers:

  • The Nintendo Switch led in unit and dollar sales for the first half, according to NPD, which doesn’t release specific tallies.
  • For June, the Switch sold the most units, but the more expensive and newer Xbox Series X and S consoles combined led in dollar sales.
  • NPD's June software chart, tracked by revenue, was topped by "Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart." Notably, a free "Pirates of the Caribbean"-themed update to Xbox's "Sea of Thieves" bumped the 2018 game from No. 36 in May to No. 20 in June.

Go deeper

Nintendo Switch Online's odd new plan

Image courtesy of Nintendo

Nintendo Switch Online is expanding with N64 and Sega Genesis games as part of an additional membership called Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.

Why it matters: The new tier is likely to cost more than the existing membership, making access to older games even more expensive.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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