Sales of video games in Australia surged 35% during the pandemic year.

15.8 million boxed and digital video games were sold in the market during 2020. That is according to GSD, which tracks boxed game sales plus digital game sales from most major games publishers (Nintendo and Bethesda are the notable absentees, see the bottom fo the article for the full list of participating companies).

Unlike other markets, the dominant sector was the boxed games business, which accounted for 8.5 million games sold. That is actually a rise of 15% over the year before. However, the download market is accelerating faster, with 7.3 million games sold via Xbox Live, PSN, Steam and Nintendo Eshop, which is a rise of 68% over 2019.

Of course, the comparisons are not like-for-like, with a few publishers — particularly Nintendo — currently not supporting the digital charts project. Therefore, to get a better understanding of the digital transition, we need to discount those companies from the data. By doing this, we can see that 58% of sales from tracked games publishers came via download stores, which is a significant changed from 2019, when the majority of games (55%) were sold in boxes.

“58% of sales from tracked games publishers came via download stores, which is a significant changed from 2019”

Although the market is now primarily digital, it’s worth noting that the physical market remains strong in Australia, with growth in software, consoles and accessories.

The best-selling game in Australia was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is an impressive feat when you consider that most other games in the charts include digital sales, whereas that one doesn’t. But what’s even more impressive is that the game was closely followed by Grand Theft Auto 5, a game that first launched in 2013. In fact, GTA 5 sales were up 23% over the year before.

It’s not the only game that surged in sales year-on-year. At No.5 is Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, and that game sold 88% more copies in 2020 (boxed only) than it did in 2019. It’s likely the COVID-19 pandemic had a positive impact on legacy games, with people looking for games to play during the start of the pandemic when there were fewer new titles being released. In terms of Switch software, Switch hardware sales were very strong (see below) in 2020, which will be the reason for the boost in sales of titles like Mario Kart.

The top publisher of the year (digital and physical) was Nintendo (16% market share), and if we just count physical, that number jumps to 29%. In terms of digital, Ubisoft was the top publisher with a 17% market share.

NINTENDO SWITCH LEADS CONSOLE SURGE

One of the biggest jumps for Australia came in sales of games consoles. 1.2 million dedicated games devices (including handhelds) were sold in 2020, which is up 49% over the year before.

The launch of new consoles helped, of course, but the real success was once again for Nintendo. Nintendo Switch sales surged 88% in 2020 over the year before. PS4 is in second place, with sales down 22%, while PS5 debuts at No.3. Xbox One is in fourth place with sales down 42%. Unsurprisingly, it’s entirely common for older consoles to fall in sales ahead of the release of their successors

Finally, in terms of games pads, 1.17 million official controllers were sold in 2020, a slight 2% rise over 2019.

The PS4 DualShock 4 controller was the most successful controller, despite sales dropping slightly (down 14%) over the year before. It was followed by the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons at No.1 (sales up 110%) and then the Microsoft Xbox One controller (down 6%). It’s worth noting that Microsoft effectively replaced its Xbox One controllers with a new pad for the Xbox Series devices. These new controllers also work with the previous generation machine.

Here are the best-selling games in Australia for 2020.

GSD Annual 2020 Top 20 Video Games (Digital + Physical)

Position Title
1 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* (Nintendo)
2 Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
3 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)
4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision Blizzard)(EA)
5 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)*
6 FIFA 21 (EA)
7 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft)
8 The Last of Us Part 2 (Sony)
9 NBA 2K20 (2K Games)
10 NBA 2K21 (2K Games)
11 Ghost of Tsushima (Sony)
12 Just Dance 2020 (Ubisoft)
13 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft)
14 FIFA 20 (EA)
15 Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)
16 Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Nintendo)*
17 Cyberpunk 2077 (Bandai Namco/CD Projekt)*
18 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (Activision)
19 Minecraft: Switch edition (Mojang)*
20 Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo)*

*Digital data not available

GSD Annual 2020 Top 10 Video Games (Digital)

Position Title
1 Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
2 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision)
3 NBA 2K20 (2K Games)
4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision Blizzard)
5 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft)
6 Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)
7 NBA 2K21 (2K Games)
8 FIFA 21 (EA)
9 Uno (Ubisoft)
10 FIFA 20 (EA)

GSD Annual 2020 Top 10 Video Games (Physical)

Position Title
1 Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)
2 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)
3 The Last of Us Part 2 (Sony)
4 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)
5 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft)
6 Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Nintendo)
7 Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt/Bandai Namco)
8 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision)
9 Minecraft: Switch Edition (Mojang)
10 Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo)

 

Digital data includes games from participating companies sold via Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Nintendo Eshop. Participating companies are Activision Blizzard, Anuman, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, Konami, Microsoft, Milestone, Nacon, Paradox Interactive, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Take-Two, THQ Nordic, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. Notable missing companies include Bethesda and Nintendo.



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