Gaming spending has hit its lowest point in more than two years, according to Mat Piscatella and the NPD Group. The group's report for May shows that spending in the industry has dropped 19% compared to the same period last year, and there could be several causes for that drop.
What does the NPD Group report show?
Last month, the NPD Group's report for April showed an overall decline in the market this year. Now, it looks like that rather dim outlook for gaming continues, as the Group has released its analysis of the gaming industry in May 2022. The report shows that overall gaming spending hit $3.7 billion in May, which is the lowest total since February 2020, when spending hit $3.5 billion. The NPD Group's Mat Piscatella also points out that year-to-date spending has dropped 10% compared to the same period last year; only subscription services are showing consistent year-on-year growth in the industry.
With hardware shortages continuing, the Nintendo Switch emerged as May's best-selling hardware platform both in unit and dollar terms. The Xbox Series X|S was the industry's highest dollar-selling platform year-to-date, but the Switch led Microsoft's console in unit sales. Given that the Xbox Series X|S set sales records for Microsoft last year, this probably shouldn't come as a surprise, but it's clear that the continuing lack of availability for both PS5 and Xbox consoles is hurting Sony and Microsoft in this department.
Responding to a user on Twitter, the NPD Group's Mat Piscatella offered some potential explanations for the state of the gaming industry in May 2022. Piscatella says the slowdown could be due to the overall state of the US economy, but it could also be down to a lack of fresh new gaming content in May. There's also the fact that after lengthy restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are still getting used to returning to "experiential spending" (i.e. spending money on experiences like restaurants or cinema trips rather than games). However, Piscatella also concedes that there may not even be a primary driver for the slowdown and that it could be due to a mixture of these factors.
What did Xbox and PlayStation game sales look like in May 2022?
In game sales terms, Elden Ring once again dominated the charts in May, returning to the top spot after hitting second place in April. It was only pipped to the number one spot on PlayStation, where it was beaten by MLB: The Show 22. Evil Dead: The Game was the only new game to enter the charts in May 2022, further reflecting a lack of new content in the games industry last month. Saber Interactive's multiplayer horror title was also the 4th best-selling game in May overall. Looks like that delay turned out to be a mixed blessing. Amusingly, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim proved once again that it is the game that will never die by re-entering the top 20 last month. Evidently, there are somehow still people out there who haven't bought Skyrim yet.
It's definitely worth taking a look at Mat Piscatella's Twitter thread for a full nerdy stat breakdown of the numbers he's discussing in the NPD Group report. As the year goes on and more high-profile releases start to arrive, it could be that we'll see a boost in gaming spending, but we'll have to wait and see. Naturally, we'll bring you more on the state of the gaming industry as soon as we get it, so watch this space for more info.