Australia spent a huge $4.21 billion on video games last year

Australia game sales 2022
Photo by Sam Pak on Unsplash
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Video games continue to be wildly popular in Australia, based on game sales figures from the peak industry body showing we spent a whopping $4.21 billion on the pastime in 2022.

New research from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) found that spending on video game software, hardware and peripherals grew by five per cent from 2021. Interestingly, Australia bucked the global trend of reduced spending on video games, according to industry research firm Newzoo.

Also, despite much of the excitement surrounding the latest and most powerful consoles, it was an old favourite that continued its widespread popularity locally.

Australia game sales show Nintendo was king in 2022

Since 2020 and the global pandemic, supply chain issues and semiconductor shortages meant that there were fewer game consoles available to purchase. Last year, hardware like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 started to see more stock as supply issues resolved. In Australia, sales of PlayStation 5 consoles grew by 17 per cent, while Xbox Series X grew by 15 per cent.

Nintendo, however, came on top as the Nintendo Switch sold the most units here. Exact figures aren’t known, although a recent company investor meeting revealed that Nintendo sold 17.97 million Switch consoles globally in its most recent fiscal year. This brings the popular hybrid handheld device’s overall sales numbers to 125.62 million since launching in 2017.

Australian consumer video game sales 2022
Source: IGEA

Of the $4.2 billion Australians spent on video games, we spent $1.56 billion on mobile games, $1.5 billion on digital purchases, and $1.15 billion at traditional brick-and-mortar retail. Aussies still largely prefer to buy games digitally, with much of the traditional retail spending driven by a combined $735 million on hardware and peripherals.

What may surprise outside observers is that the bulk of spending is not from purchasing a game, it’s from in-game purchases totalling $750 million. This includes additional expansion content for online multiplayer games like Destiny 2, microtransactions such as digital card packs in FIFA, and seasonal battle passes popularised by Fortnite.

Moving away from game ownership

One of the other major findings is the substantial growth of subscription services. In 2022, Australians spent $251 million on game subscriptions, 55 per cent more than in 2021. Most game subscription services operate in a similar vein to movie and TV streaming platforms like Netflix, which actually does have its own range of mobile games.

Instead of purchasing a game outright, you sign up and gain access to a rotating library of games for a monthly fee, which works out to be relatively cost-effective if you normally purchase multiple full-priced games each year. Popular game subscription platforms include Xbox Game Pass, which lets you play games on other devices, and Sony’s equivalent in PlayStation Plus.

Any way you look at the numbers, it’s obvious that Australians love playing video games. IGEA is due for another entry soon in biennial Digital Australia research into the gaming habits of Aussies. Its most recent Digital Australia report found that video games were the second most popular form of entertainment throughout 2020 and 2021, overtaking free-to-air TV.

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