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Black Friday Games Sales Fall 10% The Bright Spot Was PCs

Black Friday overall games sales declined due in part to the lack of available consoles. In total, digital games spending from Black Friday through Cyber Monday reached $3.9 billion, down 10% year-over-year.

The only bright segment according to data shared by SuperData was the PC gaming category.

PC games spending was up 6%, but this was offset by a 13% decline in console spending, due to a lack of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S stock at retailers with buyers now having to wait to purchase digital software.

“The current console transition is more seamless than past ones, with both console families allowing players to purchase a game on an older device and upgrade to the new-gen version at a later point,” reads a blog post from SuperData.

“However, some gamers appear to be waiting to get a new console before starting recent major titles. In order to experience the whole game in the best possible way, they are holding off on purchasing the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions entirely.”

The market intelligence firm also highlights the growth of subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass as a cause of decreased digital spending.

Physical games spending appears to have seen a similar impact, at least in the UK, with boxed game sales down 20% year-over-year over the seven-day period.

That said, digital game sales are still on track to a record-breaking year, with SuperData reporting that US digital spending alone was up 32% year-over-year from January to October, and worldwide spending was up 13%, likely driven in part by COVID-19 lockdowns.

The new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S have been flying off shelves, with online speculators charging many times more than the sales price with thousands now on back order at JB Hi Fi.

The popularity of new subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass, which offers a library of titles, also may have depressed sales of individual games, SuperData said.

Game makers typically get a huge boost whenever a new generation of consoles comes out. The new machines offer better capabilities and can enable new kinds of gaming features and genres. But supply-chain constraints can bring short-term headaches.

Overall, the video-game industry has been thriving, with Covid-19 lockdowns fueling unprecedented demand. And upcoming releases, like Halo Infinite, should help maintain momentum, according to SuperData.

The continuing shift toward digitally downloaded games — rather than physical games stored on discs or cartridges — also is fueling sales, SuperData said.

“Despite the lower numbers on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, spending on digital games is growing significantly this holiday season,” said Carter Rogers, principal analyst at SuperData, which is owned by Nielsen. “Even individuals who might have bought physical games at brick-and-mortar retailers in a normal year are opting for the convenience and safety of downloading games.”


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