Digital Gaming Grew 12% Year-over-Year in 2020, Says SuperData; Premium Segment Grew 28%

Alessio Palumbo
Digital gaming revenue

SuperData Research, a Nielsen Company, published today its yearly free report on digital gaming, highlighting the significant growth experienced this year throughout the industry.

Compared to last year, digital gaming grew 12% to reach 126.6 billion dollars. The lion's share remains safely in the hands of the mobile market, whose yearly revenue got to $73.8 billion with a 10% year-over-year increase; one of the biggest mobile titles, Pokémon GO, saw its revenue rise 39% year-over-year despite COVID-19 travel restrictions as the developers at Niantic were quick to tweak the game so that its features would work while staying indoors, too. PC digital gaming revenue accounted for $33.1 billion in 2020, while console digital revenue accounted for $19.7 billion.

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The SuperData Research report offers an in-depth look at all the various segments, though. For instance, while free to play games still dominated the scene with 78% of the digital gaming revenue (a nine percent increase over 2019), the premium segment grew far more (28%). That's because most of the lockdowns happened in North America and Europe, where the PC and console markets are stronger, accounting for 84% of all 'premium' digital gaming revenue. Total revenue for premium games was measured to be $24.5 billion ($17.8 on PC and $6.7 on consoles) this year, though next year SuperData Research is estimating it'll shrink down to $21.3 billion ($16.2 on PC, $5.1 on consoles). By contrast, free-to-play games should see another increase in 2021 across all major platforms (mobile, PC, and consoles).

This year in the premium segment, the Top 10 titles earned 34% of all revenue (whereas in the free-to-play segment the Top 10 titles only earned 19% of the total). The report puts Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which includes Warzone revenue, at the top with almost $2 billion earned digitally in 2020.

Title Publisher Genre Revenue
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard Shooter $1,913M
FIFA 20 Electronic Arts, Inc. Sports $1,083M
Grand Theft Auto V Take Two Interactive Software, Inc. Action-adventure $911M
NBA 2K21 Take Two Interactive Software, Inc. Sports $889M
NBA 2K20 Take Two Interactive Software, Inc. Sports $771M
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard Shooter $678M
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Simulation $654M
Cyberpunk 2077 CD Projekt RPG $609M
Sims 4 Electronic Arts, Inc. Simulation $462M
DOOM Eternal Bethesda Softworks Shooter $454M

VR gaming revenue was up 25% in 2020, reaching $589 million, even though VR headset shipments fell 15% mostly due to supply issues. Half-Life: Alyx sold 1.9 million units in its first months, according to the report, and managed to earn more revenue than all PC VR games combined in 2019.

SuperData Research projects digital gaming revenue flat to stay 'flat' for 2021, though the overall interactive entertainment sector, which also includes gaming video content and XR, should still grow by 2%.

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