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Digital Games Saw 12% Growth to $113.4 Billion in 2018 (Report)

“Fortnite” generated the most annual revenue of any game in history and popularized gaming video content among mainstream audiences, according to industry analyst firm SuperData. The group, a division of Nielsen, says that 2018 was the biggest year for gaming and entertainment of all time, citing 13% growth in gaming overall.

SuperData’s 2018 year in review report revealed some of the driving factors behind the industry’s overall growth. Worldwide digital game revenue is on track to hit $118.2 billion in 2019, thanks in part to “Fortnite’s” success, which was responsible for $2.4 billion on its own.

Streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins had a major stake in bringing gaming to the masses, with “gaming video content” earning $5.2 billion in 2018 and attracting 850 million unique eyes across the year. Ninja’s channel alone amassed 218 million hours views in 2018, which overshadowed video game developer Riot Games (“League of Legends”) and streamer Shroud combined.

Free-to-play gaming dominated the industry this year, which accounted for 80% of the year’s digital gaming revenue. Half of it, in fact, was earned via Asia. SuperData connected the explosion of movement for free-to-play games to “Fortnite’s” success, pointing out that it was a key factor in bolstering digital games revenue.  In comparison, premium games performed well across Western markets. Asian mobile games contributed 62% of global free-to-play revenue, however, though North America and Europe contributed to the 80% number for premium game revenue.

“Fortnite” wasn’t the only big game over the year that earned an impressive amount. Rockstar Games’ “Red Dead Redemption 2” also bagged $516 million in Q4 2018, which contributed to premium gaming revenue 10% year-over-year. SuperData projects that this number will continue to grow in terms of “Red Dead Redemption 2” specifically as its multiplayer mode “Red Dead Online” amasses purchases by way of microtransactions.

In terms of top premium PC and console games in 2019, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” was the year’s highest-earning premium title, followed by “FIFA 18” and “Grand Theft Auto V.” “Grand Theft Auto V” remained in a relatively high position on the top ten chart, despite launching six years ago in 2013, holding at $593 million likely due to various injections of content for its multiplayer mode “Grand Theft Auto Online.”

SuperData predicts that additional games will be going multiplatform this year, with cross-play another boon coming down the line for players. With an increasing focus on market competition, innovation, and overall game improvements, the industry is set to continue expanding.

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