Video Games dominated UK Lockdown sales chart; GTA V still a top-seller

Video Games dominated UK Lockdown sales chart; GTA V still a top-seller

When the UK Lockdown hit at the end of March, people were short on entertainment options. No pubs, no cinemas, no restaurants, not even a visit to friends. Home video and video games saw a big boost in sales during the Lockdown period.

The Entertainment Retailers Association published their sales data for the period of 23rd March to 13th June and while the two top-selling products were videos (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Frozen 2), it was video games that dominated the country’s lockdown entertainment. Of the top 40 titles listed, 21 were video games, 16 were video and 3 were albums.

EA's FIFA 20 was the UK's top-selling video game during the lockdown, selling 506,572 copies, scratching that itch while the football was postponed. Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare sold an impressive 474,902 but arguably the big winner of lockdown was Rockstar’s GTA V, which sold an astonishing 438,902. GTA V has basically been in circulation since the PS4 launched and yet it is still a major seller in the market, month after month. GTA Online has seen a major bump in engagement, as you can see in this chart of concurrent GTA players on Steam and the spike in GTA viewer numbers on Twitch. The game is going from strength to strength, it is honestly no surprise Rockstar are in no rush to develop GTA VI and are instead focusing on migrating GTA Online to the next generation, with free copies available to PS5 users.

Here is the sales Top 10 from 23rd March to 13th June 2020:

  1. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, Walt Disney Studios (video) - 637,484
  2. Frozen 2, Walt Disney Studios (video) - 541,783
  3. FIFA 20, Electronic Arts (games) - 506,572
  4. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Activision Blizzard (games) - 474,902
  5. Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games (games) - 438,902
  6. 1917, Universal Pictures (games) - 411,925
  7. Jumanji - The Next Level, Sony Pictures HE (games) - 411,151
  8. NBA 2K20, 2K Sports (games) - 400,879
  9. Monopoly Plus, Ubisoft (games) - 253,045
  10. Bad Boys For Life, Sony Pictures HE (games) - 241,471

While sales figures for physical media are very accurate, Digital media is more unreliable as publishers such as Nintendo and Bethesda do not supply their data. This is likely the reason why Animal Crossing: New Horizons is not present in the Top 10, with only 206,069 physical copies sold (partly due to unexpected supply issues due to the pandemic). If download sales were taken into account, Animal Crossing would have fared much better.

All of this data does not account for other gaming purchases, such as micro-transactions for games like Fortnite, GTA Online or Call of Duty: Warzone. It also fails to acknowledge subscription services like PS Plus, PS Now, Xbox Game Pass, etc. Given the surge games have seen in the sales charts, it is safe to assume other gaming media has seen similar booms.

Gaming is a thriving entertainment media in the pandemic era, being one of the few entertainment options that can be enjoyed in complete safety. When so many other industries are struggling under this strange ‘new normal’, gaming is coping just fine.

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