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U.S. video game industry sets sales record in 1st quarter as players stay home

The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected various businesses around the world, but there is at least one industry that has benefited from people staying at home to avoid COVID-19 — video games.

Total consumer spending on video games in the U.S. for the first quarter of the year set a new record of $10.86 billion, which is 9% higher compared with total spending in the same quarter of 2019, according to a report from The NPD Group.

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Of the total, $9.58 billion was spent on video game content, an 11% increase compared with the first quarter last year. NPD mentioned Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, DOOM Eternal, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, MLB The Show 20 and NBA 2K20 as among the best-performing games in the record-breaking quarter.

There were some declines in certain hardware platforms, according to NPD, but those were offset by strong sales for the Nintendo Switch. The hybrid console led the hardware market with a 2% increase in sales to $773 million. Sales of gaming accessories, which includes gamepads and headsets, were also up, improving 1% to $503 million.

“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” said NPD games industry analyst Mat Piscatella in a statement. “As people have stayed at home more, they’ve utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends. Whether it was on console or mobile, PC or virtual reality, gaming experienced play and sales growth during the first quarter.”

Animal Crossing: New Horizons hype

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch, the latest entry in the adorable series, helped drive the industry to its record sales numbers in the first quarter, despite being available for less than two weeks in the period.

The game had the best launch of any title on the console, with over 11 million copies sold in its first 11 days after its March 20 release. It also boosted hardware sales, with Nintendo claiming in its fiscal year results that demand for the Nintendo Switch reached holiday levels when Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched in Japan.

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