The NPD Group recently released its 2018 full-year data for the US Video Game industry, and once again it’s time for me to return to my predictions and see how well the ol’ crystal ball worked.
I made two sets of predictions for 2018: one in late January, and another in early July.
Let’s go to the report card!
First, let’s review my full set of predictions from January:
- Growth in Spending on Subscription Services – CORRECT – The uptick in spending on subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass, Nintendo Switch Online, EA Access, Origin Access and Origin Access Premiere, Humble Monthly Bundles, and the myriad other subscription services in the marketplace was significant. Subscription services are clearly a future growth driver for the industry.
- Switch to lead the console market in sales of both Hardware and Retail Software – CORRECT – Nintendo Switch did finish as the market leader for both metrics. Annual sales of Nintendo Switch hardware were the highest for any hardware platform since the PlayStation 4 in 2015, while Nintendo Switch retail software sales were the highest for any hardware platform since 2016.
- Immersive gaming VR will continue to struggle – CORRECT – Despite the release of some truly fantastic VR games in 2018, and aggressive promotion during the holiday season, immersive gaming VR continues to be a very small niche segment of the market and failed to gain significant momentum. Unfortunately, I remain quite bearish on the market potential of immersive gaming VR.
- Switch gold rush leads to discovery challenges – CORRECT – Over the course of 2018, Nintendo Switch grew to represent a vibrant digital marketplace with, at times, dozens of games coming to the platform on a weekly basis. While improvements to the eShop have been made, discovery on the platform remains a challenge. And although this is a problem for all digital platforms, the sheer number of games coming to Nintendo Switch makes it a particularly troublesome hurdle to overcome.
- At least 30 versions of Battle Royale games or modes will come to console – INCORRECT – While some major players did release Battle Royale games or modes in 2018, the flood of Battle Royale that most thought was sure to happen never materialized. Games like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 certainly took advantage of this market opportunity.
- At least 16.8m units of console hardware (excluding Plug N Play) will be sold – CORRECT – Bullseye.
- Packaged Software dollar sales will grow by double-digit percentage, highest since 2013 – INCORRECT – Sales were down slightly. I had forecast November and December sales higher than what occurred.
- Packaged release count will exceed 330 titles – CORRECT – 357 unique titles came to Console & Portable platforms in physical form in 2018, the third consecutive year of packaged release count increases.
And how did I do with a selection of July predictions (those not a part of the January batch)?
- Red Dead Redemption 2 will be 2018’s best-selling game – CORRECT
- Top 10 Seller Predictions – SOMEWHAT CORRECT – A lot closer than I thought I’d get, to be honest. Big misses were obviously Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Battlefield V and Fallout 76. But not terrible, I think?
- Nintendo Switch will be the best-selling console in Q4 – CORRECT
- Headset and Gamepad sales will show double-digit growth rates in Q4 – CORRECT – Growth rates for both accessory types were very strong in the holiday quarter.
In all, two big misses, but for the most part the year played out as I’d imagined back in January. Predicting 2019 is far more challenging, so look for that later this week.