Video Games Expected to Carry Momentum Through 2021

    • Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says the COVID-19 pandemic “likely pulled forward four years of gamer adoption.”
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A very strong 2020 for the video game industry could continue well into the new year.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says the pandemic “likely pulled forward four years of gamer adoption.” 

Six of the largest game publishers are expected to report a combined $24 billion in 2020 revenue, up 19% from 2019.

That uptick largely accumulated prior to the November launches of new Xbox and PlayStation consoles, both of which are still in short supply. As hardware becomes more available, publishers anticipate an increase in game spending.

Activision Blizzard — whose “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” sold 5.7 million units in November 2020 alone — expects a 7% growth in revenue in 2021. The game publisher’s 2020 net bookings are projected to increase 74% year-over-year. 

Electronic Arts, the industry’s largest publisher whose best-selling 2020 release was “Madden NFL 2021,” anticipates an 8% increase in revenue this year.

Spending Shift: U.S. movie ticket sales were down 80% to $2.3 billion in 2020. The concert industry lost $9.7 billion in box office revenue during the same period, and major sports leagues are still largely fanless. 

Without a wide scale reopening of other entertainment options in sight, consumers should have more discretionary income for games.