Video-game industry revenues grew so much during the pandemic that they reportedly exceeded sports and film combined

Nintendo‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ was one of 2020’s biggest hits, with Nintendo reporting

2020 hasn’t been a great year for most people, nor has it been very good for most industries.

The coronavirus pandemic killed over 1.7 million people worldwide, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organisation, and countries around the world remain in various forms of lockdown.

But for video-game makers like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, 2020 has been a record-breaking sales year as millions of people headed indoors for extended periods amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Video-game industry revenues are on track to exceed both sports and film combined, according to a new report from market intelligence firm IDC on Marketplace. IDC estimates video-game industry revenues reaching $US179.7 billion for the year.

Both the sports and film industries have seen major declines in 2020, as stadiums and theatres shuttered amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Growth in the video-game industry was broadly spurred by the impacts of the pandemic: Four-fifths of all US consumers “played a video game in the past six months,” according to the latest report from the NPD Group.

Though the growth in play time was spread across all demographics, it was most pronounced in a surprising demographic: people aged 35 to 54 years old. Among the groups measured, older folks saw the largest gains — with a nearly 60% spike in game playing among people 45 to 54 years old.


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That increase in play time also led to an increase in spending: The same group of 45- to 54-year-olds increased spending on video games by a whopping 76%, with similarly large gains in older demographic groups.

More specifically, standout releases like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on the Nintendo Switch helped to drive revenues. Between the game’s launch on March 20 and September 30, over 26 million copies of the new “Animal Crossing” were sold — making it the second-best selling game on Nintendo’s wildly popular console.

Additionally, the launch of new video-game consoles from Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox drove massive interest in gaming during the holiday season. Weeks after launch, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X remain sold out practically everywhere.

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