2021
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US Console Gaming: Spotlight on the Next Generation Market Report 2021
2021-04-07T04:10:08+01:00
OX1045125
4400
136298
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Report
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“2020 was a banner year for console gaming. Nintendo Switches flew out of stores as console players sought a more relaxing escape from the pandemic, while the launches of the…

US Console Gaming: Spotlight on the Next Generation Market Report 2021

 4,400 (Excl.Tax)

Report Summary

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Console Gaming: Spotlight On The Next Generation market, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Console gaming has taken on a particular importance for both new as well as established players since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nintendo Switch has diversified the console gaming audience with relaxing family-friendly gameplay, while the arrivals of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S satisfy more dedicated, actionoriented gamers’ needs. Console players are some of the most dedicated players, making it essential for gaming and non-gaming brands to understand their needs and wants to reach them.

2020 was a unique year in many regards while also following some similar market patterns. The end of 2020 brought the arrival of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and the new entrants helped grow the market overall. However, even before these new arrivals, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also saw more people investing in consoles as they spent more time at home. Monthly unit sales for the Nintendo Switch rose 172% from February 2020 to March 2020 (see Appendix – The Market). New arrivals and a re-invigorated interest in old favorites led to unit sales increases of 21.3% from 2019.

A new, growing audience of console players will drive growth in console sales in 2021. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S will have a full year of sales behind them, which may be aided by improved production of the consoles so supply can keep up with demand. While Nintendo Switch sales will likely decline, their hold on the market will continue to be strong, especially with the arrival of an updated Switch console, which is rumored to hit shelves by the end of 2021 (see Competitive Strategies – Nintendo). Further, console gaming is becoming more integral to mainstream pop culture. While sales typically decline slightly in the years after new console launches, an invigorated interest in console gaming leads Mintel to estimate growth of 7.6% in 2021.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our US Technology market research.

Quickly understand

  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed console gaming behaviors and attitudes
  • What will change about gameplay and video game expectations with the arrival of next generation consoles
  • How Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox reach different corners of the console gaming market
  • What will happen to older consoles and the resale market as new consoles hit shelves
  • Game console market share.
  • Video game console market size.

Covered in this report

Brands: Nintendo (Nintendo Switch), PlayStation (PS4, PS5), Xbox.

Games: Animal Crossing New Horizons, Splatoon, Donkey Kong, Super Smash Bros, Mario Golf, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Deathloop, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, God of War, Final Fantasy VII.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Poelking, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

2020 was a banner year for console gaming. Nintendo Switches flew out of stores as console players sought a more relaxing escape from the pandemic, while the launches of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S ignited interest among established console players. Console brands will build on this momentum in 2021 by showing off new games, investing in service offerings and providing more opportunities for the console gaming community to come together. Reaching this dedicated gaming audience will be crucial for any brands looking to establish credibility among the gaming community.

John Poelking - Senior Gaming AnalystJohn Poelking
Senior Gaming Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US unit sales of video game consoles, 2013-21 (est)
    • Impact of COVID-19 on console gaming
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on console gaming, April 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Console players want new consoles as quickly as they can
      • Figure 3: Next generation console ownership and purchase intent, February 2021
    • Older consoles still have value during generational transition
      • Figure 4: Video game console ownership, February 2021
    • Brand loyalty is strong but getting tested
      • Figure 5: Number of consoles and brands used, 2020-21
    • Leading console brands will define market positions to satisfy audience
      • Figure 6: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of console brands, February 2021
    • COVID-19 strengthened community and social gaming among console players
      • Figure 7: Attitudes toward community and connected gameplay, December 2019 and February 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • 2020 sales boom set to reverberate into 2021
    • Nintendo in a strong position to hold off new arrivals
    • PlayStation and Xbox enter the next generation with confidence
    • Most adults incorporate video games into their lives
    • Stumbling blocks in 2020 will likely be overcome throughout 2021
  4. Market Size

    • Fluctuating sales saw big boost in 2020
      • Figure 8: Total US unit sales of video game consoles, 2013-21 (est)
      • Figure 9: Total US unit sales and year-over-year change of video game consoles, 2013-21 (est)
    • Impact of COVID-19 on console gaming
    • Immediate impacts (2020)
    • Short term (2021)
    • Recovery (2022-25)
    • Learnings from the Great Recession
    • Strong console performance of previous generations points to success even in a downturn
      • Figure 10: Global unit sales of Nintendo Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360, 2006-08
  5. Segment Performance

    • Nintendo pulls ahead of the competition with Switch
      • Figure 11: US video game console market share, 2013-20
      • Figure 12: US video game console market share, 2013-20
    • New console releases lead to major gains for leading brands
      • Figure 13: US console unit sales, by brand, 2013-20
    • Nintendo
      • Figure 14: Nintendo US unit sales, by console, 2013-20
    • PlayStation
      • Figure 15: PlayStation US unit sales, by console, 2013-20
    • Xbox
      • Figure 16: Xbox US unit sales, by console, 2013-20
  6. Target Audience – The US Gamer

    • Who are gamers?
      • Figure 17: Profile of US gamers, by key demographics, February 2021
    • Mobile attracts the largest audience
      • Figure 18: Gaming devices used, February 2021
    • Gaming is a daily habit
      • Figure 19: Frequency of gaming and weekly hours, February 2021
    • Casual gaming is common
      • Figure 20: Reasons to play video games, February 2021
    • Puzzle and board games have the largest audience
      • Figure 21: Preferred gaming genres – Any rank, all gamers vs console gamers, October 2020
  7. Market Factors

    • Economic recovery will encourage consumer spending
      • Figure 22: GDP change from previous period and personal consumption expenditures, Q1 2018-Q4 2020
    • Employment may affect big ticket tech purchases
      • Figure 23: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2020-January 2021
    • Promising holiday sales signal strong launch for new consoles…
      • Figure 24: New console unit sales, November 2020-December 2020
    • …but supply issues could keep sales lagging behind last generation
      • Figure 25: PlayStation and Xbox console sales, 2013 vs 2020
    • COVID-19 encourages gaming investments, online gaming
      • Figure 26: Online gaming activities done since COVID-19, August 2020
  8. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Nintendo: reaching families and promoting versatility
    • PlayStation: elite and immersive
    • Xbox: power and services
    • Brands can provide value by emphasizing new experiences and community
  9. Competitive Strategies – Nintendo

    • Nintendo player overview
      • Figure 27: Nintendo consumer profile, by key demographics, February 2021
    • Current console: Nintendo Switch
      • Figure 28: Nintendo Switch US unit sales, 2017-20
    • Marketing strategies: “My way to play”
      • Figure 29: Nintendo “My way to play” banner ad, July 2020
      • Figure 30: Nintendo Switch My Way – Super Mario Odyssey commercial, June 2020
    • What happened in 2020
    • Animal Crossing became the game of the pandemic
      • Figure 31: Animal Crossing: New Horizons Facebook ad, May 2020
    • New emphasis on cooperative, online gameplay
      • Figure 32: Nintendo Switch – Play Together commercial, May 2020
    • Switch shortages shift focus to Switch Lite
      • Figure 33: Nintendo Switch Lite banner ad, July 2020
    • What to watch in 2021 and beyond
  10. Competitive Strategies – PlayStation

    • PlayStation player overview
      • Figure 34: PlayStation consumer profile, by key demographics, February 2021
    • Current console: PS5
    • Marketing strategies: “Play has no limits”
      • Figure 35: PS5 banner ad, November 2020
    • The games
      • Figure 36: PS5 Launch – New Worlds to Explore – Play Has No Limits commercial, November 2020
    • The technology
      • Figure 37: PS5 haptic feedback Instagram ad, September 2020
    • What happened in 2020
    • Building hype throughout the year
      • Figure 38: PS5 Facebook ad, October 2020
    • Trying to get as many consoles out as possible
      • Figure 39: PlayStation PS5 launch tweet, November 2020
    • What to watch in 2021 and beyond
  11. Competitive Strategies – Xbox

    • Xbox player overview
      • Figure 40: Xbox consumer profile, by key demographics, February 2021
    • Current console: Xbox Series X/S
      • Figure 41: Xbox Series X/S announcement tweet, September 2020
    • Marketing strategies: “Power your dreams”
    • Emphasizing technical superiority
      • Figure 42: Xbox Series X|S Launch trailer – Us Dreamers – Power Your Dreams commercial, October 2020
    • Everything tied in to service offerings
      • Figure 43: Xbox All Access banner ad, September 2020
    • What happened in 2020
    • Entering the cloud with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
      • Figure 44: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Instagram ad, December 2020
    • Learning and responding to PlayStation missteps
    • What to watch in 2021 and beyond
  12. Market Opportunities

    • Utilize gaming services to extend the console gaming experience
      • Figure 45: Gaming services use and interest, by active gamer segments, December 2020
    • Balance paid and free games for value-seeking players
      • Figure 46: Attitudes and behaviors related to the cost of games, November 2020
    • Enhance console gameplay with new accessories
      • Figure 47: OtterBox accessories Instagram post, January 2021
    • Create opportunities for the console community to come together
      • Figure 48: Attitudes toward gaming and connection, all gamers vs console gamers, October 2020
  13. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Typical hardcore gaming demographics represented in console gaming
    • Console brands will utilize unique perceptions to strengthen audience and solidify brand image
    • Nearly two thirds of console gamers are ready for new hardware
    • Players want to see the improvements for new consoles
    • Difficult console buying experiences won’t deter committed players
    • Familiar experiences on older consoles remain valuable
    • 2020 re-invigorated interest in consoles and community
  14. Console Gamer Overview

    • Active console gamers represent engaged gamer groups
      • Figure 49: Active console gamer profile, by key demographics, February 2021
    • New consoles have ground to make up, but PlayStation has a good start
      • Figure 50: Video game console ownership, February 2021
    • Brand loyalty is strong now, but could weaken
      • Figure 51: Number of consoles and brands used, December 2019 and February 2021
  15. Perceptions of Console Brands

    • PlayStation
    • Xbox
    • Nintendo
      • Figure 52: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of console brands, February 2021
  16. Purchasing Next Generation Consoles

    • PS5 set to have a big year if supply keeps up with demand
    • PS5
    • Xbox Series X/S
      • Figure 53: Next generation console purchase intent, February 2021
    • Xbox efforts could bring PlayStation users over
      • Figure 54: Learning about consoles and switching brands, by console brands owned, February 2021
      • Figure 55: Xbox switching consoles tweet reply, September 2020
  17. Reasons to Upgrade to New Consoles

    • High expectations for quality of next gen games
      • Figure 56: Attitudes toward the benefits of next generation consoles, February 2021
    • Next generation needs to live up to the hype
      • Figure 57: Attitudes toward next generation hype, February 2021
    • Graphics, gameplay will define a new generation of games
      • Figure 58: Most important reasons to upgrade to new consoles, February 2021
    • Long-time players stick by brands they trust
      • Figure 59: Most important reasons to upgrade to new consoles – Brand, by key demographics, February 2021
  18. Challenges to Buying Next Generation Consoles

    • Communication is key to easing stress of buying new consoles
      • Figure 60: Attitudes toward the challenges of buying new consoles, February 2021
    • Purchase difficulties may not discourage potential console owners
      • Figure 61: Experience purchasing new consoles, February 2021
    • Some cautious console buyers need to see other people’s praise
      • Figure 62: Cautiousness about new consoles, February 2021
  19. Replacing Consoles

    • Old consoles hold value even when upgrades happen
      • Figure 63: Playing on old consoles vs upgrading to new ones, February 2021
    • Players would rather game until their console breaks than sell early
      • Figure 64: Playing until a console breaks vs selling a used console, February 2021
  20. Attitudes toward Console Gaming

    • A console rivalry exists, but PlayStation fans are a little more loyal
      • Figure 65: Loyalty and rivalry among console brands, by console brand owned, February 2021
    • Community and social gameplay get stronger from 2020
      • Figure 66: Attitudes toward community and connected gameplay, December 2019 and February 2021
    • The arrival of new consoles makes console gaming more important for Xbox, PlayStation players
      • Figure 67: The importance of console gaming, by console brand owned, February 2021
  21. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  22. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 68: US console unit sales, by console, January 2020-February 2021
      • Figure 69: US Nintendo console unit sales, 2013-20
      • Figure 70: US PlayStation console unit sales, 2013-20
      • Figure 71: US Xbox console unit sales, 2013-20
  23. Appendix – Correspondence Analysis

    • Methodology
      • Figure 72: Perceptions of console brands, February 2021
      • Figure 73: Correspondence analysis – Principal map – Perceptions of console brands, February 2021

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