ESA reports record hardware sales and U.S. video games spending in 2022 cover image

ESA reports record hardware sales and U.S. video games spending in 2022

The ESA U.S. sales data reports a strong growth for video games in 2022. So, what were the best selling games of last year? Let’s take a look.

The general fear in a post-COVID world was that sales of video game hardware and software would slump after record spending. After all, the two years a large majority of folks stayed inside with nothing to do but play video games felt like a watershed moment in games spending. With almost no new games being made and two expensive and barely supported consoles hitting the market, it was easy to assume sales of video games in 2022 would see a slump.

A report today by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the NPD Group shows otherwise. Not only did games spending in the U.S. reach a total over $56 billion dollars in 2022, but hardware sales records were shattered in what the ESA describes as "post-COVID consumer spending stabilizing."

Let's look at some of the numbers.

Video game sales data for 2022

While overall video game software sales saw a five percent drop from 2021, the numbers still paint a picture of the medium of gaming growing year-over-year. Consoles sales continue a strong upward trend, up eight percent over the previous year and with $1.5 billion of that coming in Dec. 2022 alone.

“This latest report underscores the video game industry’s leadership as a driving force in the U.S. economy, as well as for innovative and creative entertainment,” ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said.

It's hard to refute that statement given that it seems like the constant scare since around 2014 is that the console market was on death watch. Regardless, even with a console cycle in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X lacking in new games the sales numbers continue to skyrocket.

This includes an increase of content/software sales over prior years. For comparison, total sales of content in 2019 $37 billion, while that same number was $47.5 billion in 2022. Game sales are king, but which games specifically?

Let's look at the top ten selling games from last year.

Top selling games in the U.S. in 2022

Despite being described as a release slate of "light slate of new premium releases and macroeconomic conditions" by NPD Group's Mat Piscatella, the top video games in sales in 2022 showcases a return to normalcy. The top slots held by Call of Duty, sports titles, and the errant, tentpole Nintendo releases feels almost nostalgic.

The interesting note to make about these stats is that, in the case of the Nintendo releases this list doesn't take into account digital sales. This is due to Nintendo not openly sharing said sales data from the Nintendo eShop, so use that knowledge as you will.

The bigger shock is the mobile side of things, with the games not appearing on the list being as much of a surprise as the ones that do. Esports and the typical popular mobile games such as Genshin Impact, Fortnite, and PUBG are completely missing from the top grossing list. Instead, the most lucrative games belong to so-called "old people" games: Slots, bingo, puzzle games.

And, of course Roblox being at the top comes as no surprise, especially since the developer is now selling its iconic "Oof" sound to avoid litigation.

Video game sales in 2023

Will numbers continue an upward trend? According to the ESA report and comments from Mat Piscatella, this all appears as a supposed return to normalcy for games spending. “With a highly anticipated slate of new games and the reduction or even elimination of console hardware supply constraints, 2023 could very well see the market return to growth," he said.

The 2023 game release window looks promising, featuring the likes of Suicide Squad, Harry Potter, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, and more all making appearance. Only time will tell if this number continues its upward climb or if the post-COVID boom makes a sudden bust.

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