Videogame sales sink 19% in May, to 27-month low

Father and daughter playing video games at home

MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Videogame sales slid to a 27-month low in May, marking its biggest pullback in months after a period relatively devoid of new releases.

May's overall sales tumbled 19% to $3.68 billion from a year-ago $4.522 billion, according to NPD Group - with broad declines, but a particularly heavy drop in the largest component, videogame content.

That's the lowest total since February 2020, analyst Mat Piscatella noted - just before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic provided a giant one-off effect for companies like game makers with a stay-at-home focus.

April sales had fallen 8%, providing a brief turnaround in the decline curve (December sales had shown up down 1% from the prior year, while January dipped 2%; February sales slipped 6%; and March fell a full 15%).

The lack of new games drove content sales down 19% to $3.332 billion. Hardware sales resumed deceleration, falling 11% to $216 million, and accessory sales fell 7% to $131 million.

Year-to-date hardware sales of $1.759 billion have fallen 9% behind 2021's pace. For May, Nintendo Switch (OTCPK:NTDOY) reclaimed the top platform position in both unit terms and dollar sales terms; it still leads units sold year-to-date, while Xbox Series (NASDAQ:MSFT) leads 2022 dollar sales.

In accessories, year-to-date spending is now down 14% vs. the same period in 2021, to $875 million. For the month of May, the PS4 (NYSE:SONY) DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black is again the best-selling accessory, while the year-to-date crown rests on the Xbox (MSFT) Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller.

In game content, only one new game appeared in the top 50 on the dollar sales chart - Evil Dead: The Game (Saber Interactive) landed at No. 4. Amid that slow schedule, multi-month success Elden Ring (OTCPK:NCBDY) regained the top spot from Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (WBD), which fell back to No. 2, just ahead of Nintendo Switch Sports (OTCPK:NTDOY).

After its 19% decline in May, videogame content spending year-to-date is 10% below 2021's pace, at $21.9 billion.

Rounding out the dollar-sales chart top 10 in games: No. 5, MLB: The Show 22; No. 6, Kirby and the Forgotten Land (OTCPK:NTDOY); No. 7, Call of Duty: Vanguard (ATVI); No. 8, Mario Kart 8 (OTCPK:NTDOY); No. 9, Gran Turismo 7 (SONY); and No. 10, Pokémon Legends: Arceus (OTCPK:NTDOY).

Mobile games are still slowing at a linear rate, led again by a significant drop in spending through Google Play (of 23%), while App Store gaming spending is about 2.6% off May 2021. The top 10 earnings games combined saw a small tick up of 1.3%, though, Piscatella noted.

Related tickers: (OTCPK:NTDOY +0.0%), (SONY -1.3%), (MSFT +0.7%), (HEAR -1.5%), (LOGI -0.2%), (CRSR -0.8%), (EA -1.3%), (ATVI -0.4%), (TTWO -1.6%), (WBD +0.1%), (OTCPK:UBSFY -1.2%), (OTCPK:NCBDY -1.8%), (OTCPK:SQNNY -5.0%), (OTCPK:CCOEY -2.5%), (OTCPK:SGAMY -1.9%), (SKLZ -6.7%), (SE +0.6%), (NTES +2.9%), (OTCPK:TCEHY +2.7%), (RBLX -1.2%). Retail stock: (GME +7.1%).

ETFs: (GAMR -0.6%), (ESPO -0.1%), (NERD +1.0%)

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