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U.S. digital game sales grew 11% in 2013

U.S. digital game sales grew 11% in 2013

January 16, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

The U.S. digital games market continues to grow at a brisk pace, reaping more than $11.6 billion in sales during 2013. That's an 11 percent increase over the previous year, according a recent digital game sales report from market research firm SuperData.

SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen suggests that the U.S. digital games market saw a significant boost this year because both the Christmas and New Year holidays occurred mid-week, leading to a 36 percent boost in December digital game sales year-over-year.

The biggest earners in the U.S. digital games market last year were mobile titles, which account for just over a quarter of the overall sales pie with an estimated total revenue of $3.6 billion. They're neck-and-neck with free-to-play games, which earned roughly $2.9 billion in the U.S. last year -- up 45 percent from the year prior.

That suggests free-to-play is the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. digital games market, though developers should take note that U.S. free-to-play games from the likes of Valve, Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts remain at the bottom of SuperData's top ten list of most profitable free-to-play games worldwide in 2013.

At the top of that list is South Korean free-to-play multiplayer tactical shooter CrossFire, earning an estimated $957 million in 2013 for Chinese publisher Tencent.

[Update: A rep for NCsoft told Gamasutra in an email following the publication of this story that its online game, Dungeon&Fighter, actually exceeded CrossFire's revenue by a "significant amount" in 2013. The rep could not reveal internal figures, but used publicly-known numbers that indicate Dungeon&Fighter generated an estimated $1.4 billion in revenues -- $450 million more than CrossFire.]

Tencent also has a majority stake in U.S. developer Riot Games, who came in just behind CrossFire on the earnings charts with an estimated $624 million in revenue from League of Legends last year.

Nexon, NCSoft and Wargaming fill out the middle tier of the list thanks to high earnings from games like World of Tanks ($372 million) and Dungeon Fighter Online ($426 million), while microtransaction-fueled U.S. MMORPGs like World of Warcraft ($213 million) and Star Wars: The Old Republic ($139 million) top Valve's Team Fortress 2 ($139 million) and Counter-Strike Online ($121 million) to fill out the bottom four spots on the list of 2013's top earners.

SuperData gathers this data by collaborating with developers and publishers to collect digital transaction data across various platforms, amassing monthly spending for roughly 3.2 million customers.

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