January 2021 Digital Games Market Analysis

SuperData now offers January 2021 worldwide digital games market analysis, saying earnings were up by 15% compared with January 2020. Other points of interest are a rebound in player count and earnings in Valorant over the prior month due to new content, a drop-off in World of Warcraft player counts as Shadowlands mania subsides, and how sales of Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC and now outstripping the console versions. Here are all the data:
Worldwide digital games earnings rose by 15% year-over-year to reach $11.6B in January 2021. Revenue was up annually across all device types. Mobile revenue grew by 6%. During the time period, PC earnings rose by 31% and console revenue increased by 24%. While January marks yet another month of revenue growth above 10%, it is one of the last months where year-over-year comparisons to game revenues before COVID-19 will be available.

Top Grossing Titles by Category
Worldwide, ranked by January 2021 earnings
1 Dungeon Fighter Online Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Free Fire
2 League of Legends NBA 2K21 Pokémon GO
3 Crossfire Grand Theft Auto V Peacekeeper Elite
4 Fantasy Westward Journey Online FIFA 21 Honor of Kings
5 World of Warcraft West Fortnite Candy Crush Saga
6 Valorant Apex Legends Coin Master
7 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Roblox
8 Roblox Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Homescapes
9 World of Tanks Assassin's Creed Valhalla Last Shelter: Survival
10 Fortnite Genshin Impact Gardenscapes
Source: SuperData Arcade. Please visit http://bit.ly/sdarcade for more info.
© 2021 SuperData. A Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved

Valorant earnings and player numbers rebounded in January thanks to the launch of a new character and fresh season of content. From December to January, earnings were up 39% while player numbers rose by 29%. Returning lapsed players accounted for 72% of the growth in monthly player numbers. The game’s long-term success will likely depend on the ability of developer Riot Games to consistently launch content in order to entice players to keep coming back.

World of Warcraft player numbers fell back to normal levels as the excitement around November’s Shadowlands expansion subsided. From November to January, revenue fell by 61% and user numbers declined by 41% (these figures do not include China). This roughly matches the pattern seen for the past several expansions, though Shadowlands had a bigger launch. Blizzard does appear to have found a way to increase how often expansions are able to boost earnings. The publisher recently announced that it will be adding the 2007 Burning Crusade expansion into World of Warcraft: Classic this year. Alternating between releasing all-new and classic expansions could cause WoW revenue to spike annually for the near future, instead of every two years (the typical development time for the title’s expansions).

The PC player base of Red Dead Redemption 2 hit its highest level ever in January and nearly doubled the user count of the console version. In December, Rockstar began selling the game’s multiplayer component, Red Dead Online, as a standalone purchase for $4.99 (raised to $19.99 on February 15). In December and January, PC sales of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online totaled a combined 1.8M, far higher than the console version (611K). The PC edition of the game benefited the most from the deal because some owners of the console version likely picked up the game on PC for cheap in order to take advantage of features like improved graphics.