In October 2018, consumers around the globe spent $1.5 billion on console games in the United States. This was a massive increase of 73% year over year, according to industry tracking firm the NPD Group. This was the highest recorded video game sales figures since the firm began tracking sales all the way back in 1995. It seems that people weren't put off by the impending Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and decided to pay full price.
Another report, published by digital-focused tracking firm SuperData Research provided a picture of global gaming revenue, focusing on digital. For October 2018, players spent $1.53 billion on digital console entertainment - even more impressive when you take into account that it was the first time ever that full digital game downloads exceeded $1 billion. It also represented an increase of 80% year over year (compared to October 2017). October 2017 included major releases such as racing game sim Forza Motorsport 7, hotly anticipated Nintendo Switch exclusive Super Mario Odyssey, and much-hyped fantasy sci-fi RPG Destiny 2. So, for October 2018 to show a marked improvement compared to the previous year is a significant achievement indeed.
It's important to stress that both of these reports only focus on console gaming. Mobile gaming, which represents approximately half of all gaming revenue isn't represented at all. That means that we are left to merely ponder what sort of benefits mobile gaming is seeing, considering what the increase in sales in the console video game world could suggest about the mobile gaming industry too.
What Caused the Increase in Console Game Revenue?
As the October 2017 games line up showed, October is traditionally an important month for video game releases. It's the time during which most people will be doing their holiday gift shopping and will therefore be looking for the biggest and best game releases to gift to their families, friends and themselves. But the reason for the huge sales in October 2018 specifically can be chalked down to two games in particular: Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a cowboy epic from Rockstar Games. Set in the late 19th century, the game is a prequel to the widely successful 2010 release, Red Dead Redemption. It follows the story of the Van der Linde gang as they rob, steal and shoot their way across the wide expanse of the United States of America. The game has been eight years in the making and players have been chomping at the bit to see what Rockstar could come up with for the ambitious follow up. After all, it is the studio's very first game made specifically for PS4 and Xbox One, as opposed to the PS4 and Xbox One version of Grand Theft Auto 5, which is a rerelease. Rockstar's track record combined with the excitement for this game has already led to 17 million sales and despite the fact that it didn't release until October 26, it still contributed a lot to the sales figures.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The Call of Duty series releases a new game every single year, but developer Treyarch and publisher Activision still managed to bring up the hype levels with this title. This also in spite of the fact that this year's franchise entry ditches the traditional, single-player story campaign. Instead, there are multiplayer modes and the most headline-worthy mode of all: Blackout. Blackout is a battle royale game mode which takes bits and pieces of classic Call of Duty maps, characters, and enemies (e.g zombies) and places them in a "winner takes all" gameplay dynamic. While it borrowed the trends set by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, the Call of Duty polish and the lore of the series was enough to rack up a lot of sales too.
How Does This Affect Mobile Gaming?
Neither Red Dead Redemption 2 nor Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 are available on mobile devices, but you would be naive to think that this doesn't affect the mobile gaming landscape at all. Even though Rockstar Games has released a companion app for its new game, this does not scratch the itch for those who only have access to mobile devices, not consoles, and therefore don't have any way of playing its new game.
The success of these two console and PC-based games directly leads to downloads of certain game genres. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, for example, will help to drive downloads of the PUBG and Fortnite mobile apps as these are the next best thing when it comes to playing Blackout on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile slot games with a wild west theme will also prosper, such as the mobile Wild Saloon slot game or the Dead Or Alive slot, both available on mobiles and desktops. These casino games may not offer the same exploration, but they do use wild west themes, with the reels of these slots featuring familiar symbols like sheriffs and sheriff badges, mean-looking outlaws and cheerful bartenders. All of these can be spotted in Red Dead Redemption 2, making mobile slots the next best thing.
What Other Console Game Releases Could Affect Mobile
These aren't the only games that could shake up the mobile industry this much, however. The 2019 schedule of console games look similarly jam-packed with blockbuster titles, from the likes of sci-fi RPG anthem Resident Evil 2 remake to and Sony's zombie action game Days Gone.
The themes of these games could directly translate into mobile games that feature the following: loot shooters where players work together and collect bags of unlocks, survival games that put you in tight spots with tough enemies, and destructive action games that pit you against zombies.
So, while we don't have stats on exactly how the mobile game industry fared during October 2018, it seems that we don't need them. The proof is in the pudding the consoles and mobile games have a close correlation.