Amid a global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the video game industry recorded its most profitable month, generating $11.5 billion in revenue in November 2020.
According to the latest SuperData report, earnings went up by 15%, with PC games seeing a new revenue record with a 22% rise. Console game sales went up by 24% compared to November of last year, but their all-time record in April 2020 remains unbroken. Analysts believe this is mostly due to a highly limited supply of next-generation consoles, which would’ve likely shattered all records under normal circumstances.
The global pandemic may have reduced the production rate of PlayStation 5 and new Xbox consoles, but that doesn’t mean the gamers aren’t preparing for the next generation. Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War was the best seller on consoles with 5.7 million digital units sold, beating last year’s installment by 7%. The game’s free-to-play mode Warzone hosts the majority of its player base. In November, it had nearly three times more players than Cold War, meaning that the free-to-play model is here to stay.
Console charts were dominated by the latest releases, as is generally expected this time of year. Two of Ubisoft’s titles, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion, managed to break into the top five, joined by sports games NBA 2K21 and FIFA 21. The Assassin’s Creed franchise remains Ubisoft’s best-seller, with Valhalla selling 1.7 million units during its launch month and beating its predecessor by 50%. Surprisingly, this didn’t secure more revenue for the publisher, as Valhalla didn’t offer the in-game purchases we saw in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
For PC, November was incredibly important. The latest Blizzard Entertainment game, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, set a new record for the fastest-selling PC game of all time, with 3.7 million copies sold on the day of its release. This record was previously held by Diablo III, another Blizzard game. Shadowlands also managed to bring the crowds back to World of Warcraft. The MMO is now seeing bigger player numbers than it had at its peak in 2010.
On the mobile side of things, there aren’t many surprises. The usual suspects, Free Fire, Pokemon GO, and Roblox, are sitting at the very top of the revenue charts, followed by Peacekeeper Elite (a rebranded PUBG Mobile for the Chinese market) and AFK Arena.
Mobile also had a record-breaking month. Thanks to its sudden surge in popularity, a 2018 sleeper hit, Among Us, is now at its highest player count. With roughly 500 million active players in November, Among Us became the most popular game of all time. The majority of the player base (97%) is on mobile, making it also the biggest mobile game.