The ESA and the NPD Group jointly published a press release report over on the ESA’s official website. The report indicates that the U.S., gaming industry generated $36 billion in revenue throughout 2017, which included software, accessories, hardware, subscriptions, microtransactions, digital sales and physical sales.
The report indicates that there was an 18% growth spur from 2016 to 2017. Hardware was actually up by an extra percentile due to the release of the Nintendo Switch, which helped push total hardware revenue to $6.9 billion in 2017.
Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, commented about the growth of the business and how games are reaching a global economy, saying in the report…
“The spectacular growth of our industry in 2017 proves video game developers, artists, and storytellers are the brightest lights in the US economy, finding more ways to delight the world’s 2.6 billion gamers each year,”
While I’m sure some developers appreciate the sentiment, I think most people would prefer to get some hard numbers on the categorical breakdowns for each platform, market division, and demographic.
For instance, what was the divide between mobile, console, and PC spending?
How much was generated by in-app purchases versus premium packaged goods?
What was the separation in revenue between hardware accessories and consoles?
What was the breakdown between revenue generated from indie studios and traditional publishing houses?
What was the difference between digital and retail revenue?
While the ESA was shy on details, if you fish around a bit you’ll find that the top earning publisher in the mobile space counting game apps and non-game apps was Tencent. They control the market pretty much on a global scale, as reported by Sensor Tower.
In overall mobile downloads – including all apps across all mobile distribution platforms – Tencent ended up in third place behind Facebook and Google. It’s quite telling knowing that Tencent is growing to such an extent that they’re almost about ready to rival Google and Facebook.
Gamasutra offered a separate list for the top earners on Steam, with the games generating the most revenue for 2017 being listed below.
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Ghost Recon: Wildlands
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Ark: Survival Evolved
- Rainbow Six Siege
- Divinity: Original Sin II
- The Witcher 3
- DOTA 2
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive
- Rocket League
What’s amazing to me is that a bunch of the top sellers for Steam throughout 2017, with the exception of Divinity: Original Sin II, Ghost Recon: Wildlands and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, are all older games from years ago. It’s quite telling how much people prefer older games. However, the list does seem to exclude Cuphead, even though it most certainly did surpass the 1 million mark, but it apparently didn’t generate as much revenue as the games above.
Anyway, it’s quite telling how secretive the industry is when it comes to the sales figures. There’s a lot of shifting, and shady eyes, with blankets and curtains being pulled up and pulled over the cradle of fiscal figures like some kind of economic Svengali.
But with the current message being touted by big publishers that games “cost too much to make” in order to convince the general public to raise prices or attach loot boxes to premium titles, it’s no wonder that they’re reticent about sharing just how successful their financial contrivances really are.