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Video game industry sales soar to $3.6 billion in July

The video game industry continued its strong performance last month, which is being driven primarily by consumers looking to play games as the pandemic continues to spread across the U.S.

Consumers spent $3.6 billion on video game hardware, software, and accessories last month, a 32% increase compared to July 2019, researcher NPD revealed on Friday. Through the first seven months of the year, Americans have spent $26 billion on video game hardware and content, representing a 21% jump compared to 2019.

The strong month was driven primarily by booming sales in the “video game content” category, which includes video games, downloadable content, and subscriptions. Last month, consumers spent $3.3 billion on that content, a year-over-year leap of 34%, according to NPD. The researcher didn’t share unit sales data but said that last month’s blockbuster <em>Ghost of Tsushima</em> was the top-selling title in July and the bestselling launch ever for developer Sucker Punch. <em>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare</em> and <em>Paper Mario: The Origami King</em> followed in second and third place, respectively, and <em>The Last of Us: Part II</em> and <em>Animal Crossing: New Horizons</em> rounded out the top five.

Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris took the 10th spot in game sales last month, making it the highest-ranked Sword Art game ever released, NPD said.

Accessories, including controllers, driving wheels, and headsets, set a new monthly record last month with $170 million in sales. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controllerwas the top-selling accessory in July and is the bestselling accessory of 2020. Gamepad, headset, and steering wheel sales are also setting new sales records this year, NPD said.

Hardware sales were the one negative mark on the industry’s July, with sales falling 2% year-over-year to $166 million. Nintendo’s Switch was the top-selling console last month, NPD said.

The slight decline in hardware sales could be attributable to pent-up demand for the next-generation console cycle. Both Microsoft and Sony plan to launch their new consoles — Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, respectively — this holiday season. It’s common for current-generation console sales to drop ahead of a new cycle as consumers hold off on buying existing hardware and save up for what’s next. Even with the July drop, however, NPD said total hardware spending for the first seven months of the year is up 22% to $1.8 billion.

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