US hardware spending grew 56% during COVID-19 lockdown, with the Nintendo Switch leading the charge

Total spending in the US games industry, across Video Game Hardware, Software, Accessories and Game Cards totalled $977 million in May 2020, a 52 per cent increase on May 2019 – according to the NPD Group. This is the highest total for a May month since the $1.2 billion achieved in May 2008.

Additionally, year to date tracked spending across all sectors reached $5.5 billion, an 18 per cent increase on May 2019. This is the highest total for the year-to-date period since 2011 ($5.7 billion).

While the NPD Group report does not mention the COVID-19 crisis, it’s hard not to draw a correlation between increased spending on gaming and the social distancing and lockdown measures brought on by the pandemic.

The data shows the ongoing success of the Nintendo Switch. US hardware spending grew 56 per cent in May 2020, when compared to May 2019, to $235 million – the highest total for an May month since the $239 million total earned in May 2010. Year-to-date spending reached $1.4 billion, increasing 34 per cent compared to last year.

The Nintendo Switch lead the charge in this, as it was the best-selling platform in May in both unit and dollar sales.  Switch unit sales were the highest for an individual platform in a May month since the Nintendo DS in May 2009.

This is a sign that the rampant success of the Switch shows no sign of slowing. In May, Nintendo reported 55.7m Switch units sold to date, with 21.03m units sold this year. In April, Nintendo increased Switch production in order to meet the increased demand.

US software sales also saw a boost. Dollar sales of tracked Video Game Software grew 67 per cent in May compared to last year, for a total of  $438 million – the highest achieved since the $487 million reached in May 2010. No new games reached the top 10 sales for the month – the closest being the Nintendo Switch title Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, which placed at #14 on the all-platforms chart.

Spending on accessories and game cards also increased – a 36 per cent boost to $304 million. Year-to-date spending has increased 12 per cent, to $1.6 billion.

Gamepads, headsets, headphones and steering wheels all set new May dollar sales records. The Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller is the best-selling Accessory both of May and year to date in dollar sales.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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