When I published my initial Video Game Industry Predictions for Holiday 2018 piece back in July, I said that the year had been dynamic and surprising. Nothing that’s happened in the market since has changed that opinion.
Total U.S. Video Game industry sales have grown more than 30 percent through the first three quarters of the year, driven by strong gains in Mobile, Console Hardware, Accessories and Digital Software. The cultural phenomenon of Fortnite has combined with blockbuster releases such as Far Cry 5, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, NBA 2K19 and Marvel’s Spider-Man to drive total market spending higher.
It’s time to take another look at those predictions I made over the summer, and give them some final tweaks as we enter the industry’s most critical selling period of the year.
2018’s Best-Selling Games
- What I said in July - In a very tight race, Red Dead Redemption 2 will edge out Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to be both the best-selling game of Q4, and 2018’s best-selling game of the year. Battlefield V, NBA 2K19 and Far Cry 5 will round out the year’s top 5 best-sellers list:
- What I think in November – The top 5 stays the same, with a bit of a change in rankings, as NBA 2K19 jumps up a spot. The bottom 5 has more movement, with the record-breaking
launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man being persuasive enough for me to move up in the predicted rankings from tenth to seventh overall in the year.
2018’s Best-Selling Hardware
- What I said in July - Driven by the launches of Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!, Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo Switch will be the best-selling console of the fourth quarter in unit sales, while also elevating the platform to be the best-selling console of the year.
- What I think in November – Sony’s PlayStation 4 has had a quite remarkable run through the summer and into the fall, driven by a combination of smart promotion and excellent content support, particularly from Marvel’s Spider-Man. I can see either the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch being the best-selling hardware platform of the year. I think it will come down to how many units of the $199 Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 bundle will be made available through the end of the year versus consumer response to Pokémon: Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I still lean towards Nintendo Switch taking the top spot by year’s end, but also wouldn’t be surprised to see PlayStation 4 end as the year’s best-selling hardware platform.
Hardware Installed Bases
- What I said in July - By year’s end, the time aligned installed base of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will exceed that of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox by 6 percent and will be ahead of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by at least 30 percent.
- What I think in November – My annual hardware forecast for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has grown since July, so I expect that we’ll end the year slightly better than this prediction.
Hardware Installed Bases
- What I said in July - All three current generation consoles will each generate at least 4m units sold in 2018. Total 2018 hardware sales across all console and portable platforms should exceed 17.5m units, the highest total achieved in the U.S. market since 2012.
- What I think in November – We’re on track. I now expect total hardware sales across all console and portable platforms to reach 17.6m units in the year.
Physical Release Count
- What I said in July - Physical video game title release count will exceed 400 unique titles, finishing the year up at least 15 percent when compared to 2017.
- What I think in November – Again, on track. Q3 physical release count across PS4, Xbox One and Switch increased by 51% compared to a year ago, to 171 titles. Switch is driving this increase. 39 more physical Switch titles released this Q3 than last, to 51 in total.
Software Dollar Sales
- What I said in July - Physical video game software dollar sales will finish the year with growth of at least 8 percent when compared to a year ago, while digital full-game sales will continue to grow at double digit percentage rates.
- What I think in November – I now project physical video game software dollar sales to grow by 3 percent for the year with digital full-game sales more than making up for the variance.
As I stated over the summer, this year’s holiday video game slate is arguably the best in a decade, making double-digit overall market spending growth in 2018 a likely outcome.