Video games generated $43.4 billion in overall sales in 2018 in the United States, growth of 18 percent over the prior year, and Washington state ranks third in the country in the total number of active video game studios, according to the latest numbers from the NPD Group and the Entertainment Software Association.
We’d already known that 2018 was a big year for gaming, with October breaking records for consumer spending, but the new 2018 report wraps it up with a bow. “Console, PC, and mobile platforms all saw significant growth, while developing portions of the market like subscription and streaming services gave us a peek into a future full of possibilities for the industry and gamers,” said Mat Piscatella, NPD Group analyst, in a statement.
The total revenue was generated based upon all four major platforms — consoles, PCs, portable systems, and mobile devices and included physical media, digital sales, and in-game purchases.
The big takeaway point here is that every major platform, at the moment, is not just healthy, but thriving. The American game market is growing significantly, with 150 million Americans regularly playing video games in one way or another. While the current data as imparted doesn’t break it down by medium, engagement, or involvement — you can assume a significant number of that 150 million people are playing on their phones, for example — it does mean that video games as a whole are making approximately as much money as the American film industry.
The ESA maintains a database for game development studios, Are We In Your State?, which lists the companies, college programs, and advocacy for the video game business by states and congressional districts, as things currently stand. Washington is currently the third-biggest state for video game development with 242 active studios, most of which are located in and around Seattle; only California and Texas have more. Another 72 studios are based in Oregon, most of which are in and around Portland.
2018’s games revenue was helped along by multiple high-profile releases, most notably the continuing market dominance of Epic’s Fortnite, Rockstar’s long-awaited Red Dead Redemption II, and Activision successful gambling by adding a “battle royale” mode to Call of Duty: Black Ops IV. Nintendo fueled some of the growth in the hardware market with both the cardboard-crafted Labo toy and its NES Classic, which was the highest-selling console in the market for a while over the summer.
The first few months of 2019 feature an unusually hectic release calendar for the games industry, with both Capcom’s remake of the horror classic Resident Evil 2 and Square Enix’s long-awaited Disney crossover RPG Kingdom Hearts III hitting later this week. Mortal Kombat 11, the latest installment in the Chicago-made, intensely bloody head-to-head fighter, made its public debut last Thursday, showing off multiple new systems and somehow, an even higher degree of simulated violence.
In local news, Microsoft is preparing to bring out its long-delayed Crackdown 3, giving the Xbox another exclusive title; Sony’s studio in Bend, Oregon has finally finished its open-world zombie action game Days Gone, which puts players in the role of a lone biker in the post-apocalyptic forest communities of the Pacific Northwest; and the Bellevue, Wash.-based Sucker Punch continues work on the PlayStation 4-exclusive samurai adventure Ghost of Tsushima.