Worldwide digital games market: December 2016

The global games software market’s total digital revenue in December 2016 increased by 10% from 2015 to a record $7.6 billion.

Subscribers to the SuperData Arcade have access to detailed performance data on the world’s most popular digital games across PC, console and mobile.

SuperData Top 10 Digital Games December 2016

  • Digital console market grows 16% year-over-year, compared to retail’s worst December in two decades
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare continued to underperform previous releases, down 23% from BOIII in December
  • Nintendo’s Super Mario Run fails to break the top 10, signaling an uphill battle for the premium-priced mobile title.

December was a weak month for retail software sales in the United States, which experienced their worst December in two decades, dropping 16% year-over-year. In contrast, December console digital revenue in the U.S. increased by 16% year-over-year, capping off a record sales quarter in which total revenue hit a combined $1.0 billion for the first time. Growth was underpinned by a 21% jump in total full game download units as purchasing habits continue to trend towards digital distribution.

In the US, this shift toward digital has fundamentally changed the games landscape, evidenced in the dour outlook for retailers like GameStop (GME), whose stock price has fallen 28% from its highest point in 2016.

Globally, the total digital market grew 9%, in which almost every individual segment saw year-over-year growth. The mobile segment continues to lead the market in terms of total digital revenue, increasing 11%, to its highest point ever. Free-to-play games continue to grow year-over-year, rising 7%, on the backs of League of LegendsCrossfire and Dungeon Fighter Online.

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has another weak month. Infinite Warfare sold, digitally on console and PC, 23% fewer units than Black Ops 3 last year and only 6% more units than 2014’s Advanced Warfare. The year-over-year decline in units was offset by a significant increase in average selling price as a result of deluxe units.

Grand Theft Auto V ends the year on a strong noteGTA V Online may have had its busiest quarter yet in terms of significant DLC updates. The Import/Export update in December was particularly well received and led to a 36% month-over-month increase in Additional Content spending. MAU in December were also the highest they’ve been in all of 2016.

With Super Mario Run, Nintendo shows it still doesn’t get the modern marketSuper Mario Run may have collected a third of Pokemon GO’s total downloads but Mario made less than a fifth of Pokemon’s total revenue when comparing launch months. The exclusivity to the iOS platform (until March) contributed to a truncated launch. However, the combination of a relatively large $10 full game price tag in a largely free-to-play ecosystem, and no plans for microtransactions, indicates that Nintendo may still not be understanding the new market and audience.