PC Games still rule over consoles, mobile, in 2015 sales

Kellogg Brengel

PC Gaming Rig

Cue the “PC Master Race” gamer memes. According to a new report by gamesindustry.biz, PC gaming took the top spot in the 2015 worldwide market for digital games. In 2015, the market as a whole saw $61 billion in revenue for digital games across all platforms. That number was up 8% from the year prior. Of that $61 billion, $32 billion was in PC gaming, $25 billion was in mobile gaming, and $4 billion was in consoles. For comparison’s sake, one estimate of worldwide movie box office gross revenue for 2015 is $26.8 billion (via boxofficemojo.com).

The digital games industry has matured. It has long outpaced other forms of entertainment like movies, and the big game studios are consolidating into monolithic corporations. But writing for gamesindustry.biz, Joost van Dreunen says that PC games are undervalued.

A great deal of attention in the industry is still paid to mobile gaming, as it is typically more casually minded gaming that reaches a broader audience. Mobile gaming also well established the profitable “freemium” strategy of making the game free upfront, but getting the user to pay on the backend for features and in-game items. But van Dreunen thinks PC gaming is undervalued as a platform given all the attention paid to mobile. The top 10 PC games earned more than the top 10 mobile games, and over half of all digital game revenue came from PC games.

xbox one controller

While consoles may have only generated $4 billion in digital game revenue, total sales reached a record high. Sales of digital console games also had the biggest jump of all platforms compared to the prior year, shooting up by 34%. The console market is much more condensed though. In 2015, the top 10 digital console titles took more than half of worldwide revenues. For comparison in mobile the top 10 titles took 20% of worldwide mobile revenues, and the top 10 PC games add up to 20% of worldwide PC game revenue.

Van Dreunen concludes his report with what we can look forward to in 2016. His main conclusion is that as the video game industry continues into its maturity it will have to look for new ways and new markets to grow its business.

“…the top game publishers are becoming so large that they can no longer sustain their growth by simply publishing more titles and claiming more market share in games.”

Examples of this are Blizzard Activision’s purchase of e-sports league MLG and hiring “a well-known Hollywood producer to oversee its movie ambitions.” Now that gaming has reached such a large status in terms of market size, it will be interesting to see how studios push into new areas to make digital games a more expansive business.

World of Warcraft movie poster
Poster for upcoming World of Warcraft movie as Activision expands into cinema.

One thing missing from van Dreunen’s analysis of what to expect in 2016 is VR and AR gaming. Samsung VR is already on the market, but it is a mobile platform. PCs are set to get Oculus Rift VR headsets and games this year. If PC gaming is considered undervalued as a platform, that might turn out to be an understatement in itself as the platform expands into the virtual.