Global consumers spent $9.1 billion on digital video games in February, an increase of six percent year over year (YoY), according to the latest figures by SuperData Research.
US digital spending grew 21 percent, primarily from an increase in console spend across premium AAA titles and free-to-play (F2P). Premium PC grew 33 percent YoY, while the console segment grew 34 percent over the same month last year.
Meanwhile, the Social and Pay-to-Play PC segments shrank one percent and eight percent, respectively.
Free-to-play console games drove a staggering 359 percent YoY growth last month, a feat that SuperData attributes to Epic Games’ Fortnite. The zombie survival game and its battle royale mode earned more in additional content purchases than all other console games in February, with the exception of Call of Duty: WWII.
“With the success Fortnite demonstrates, it is likely that more developers will attempt to enter this space,” Elena Fedina, senior analyst at SuperData told AListDaily. “We currently saw that in 2017, the F2P console market was over $300 million, but it will more than double in 2018.”
Fedina noted that while F2P remains a large subset of PC gaming—earning more than $15 billion last year—consoles are a much more closed off and challenging platform for developers.
“Games like World of Tanks and SMITE (even before the impressive performance of Fortnite this year) showed developers that despite being a more challenging environment from a development standpoint, consoles have a large audience of gamers that want to play F2P games,” said Fedina.
Free-to-play PC revenue dropped four percent last month, while mobile—free or otherwise—grew a modest four percent YoY.
Tencent Races For The Top
QQ Speed, Tencent’s mobile racing game, is a breakout hit in China. The game released in December after a popular run on PC and has climbed to the number two mobile spot in a matter of months. SuperData notes that QQ Speed shows one of the fastest climbs of any mobile title they’ve seen.
“Essentially, [QQ Speed] is very similar to Mario Kart, which is not available in China, hence the initial interest,” explained Fedina. “QQ Speed had no real competition and it is a part of the Tencent ecosystem, which adds the social aspect to it and makes it more attractive to players.”
Fedina also pointed out that QQ Speed does not offer cross-play between mobile and PC, which doesn’t put PC players at an unfair advantage.
“This also leads to potentially increased spending,” she added. “The accounts are not shared, i.e. in the mobile version player starts from scratch so if they had a favorite skin, they would have to buy it again.”