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US video game spending fell in 2019: industry group

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Americans spent less on video games last year as new consoles were readied for launch and Google took to streaming titles from the cloud, an industry group reported on Thursday.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Americans spent less on video games last year as new consoles were readied for launch and Google took to streaming titles from the cloud, an industry group reported on Thursday.

US spending on video game hardware and software in 2019 tallied US$14.6 billion, a 13 per cent decline from the previous year, market-tracker NPD Group said.

Console rivals Sony and Microsoft plan to release new-generation hardware this year, giving gamers reasons to wait for the latest offerings before deciding what to spend their money on.

Spending across video game hardware, software, accessories and game cards in December alone totaled US$3.0 billion, down 15 per cent when compared to the same month a year earlier, NPD reported.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" was the best-selling game in the US for three consecutive months after its October launch, and finished 2019 as the top-selling game of the year, according to NPD.

It was the 11th consecutive year that "Call of Duty" has been the best-selling video game franchise, NPD reported.

It also reported that the number of people playing mobile games in the US and Canada grew about two percent to 214 million last year. The pace slowed due to saturation of the market for smartphones and tablets.

Money spent on mobile games, however, increased 24 per cent to top US$11.82 billion last year.

"Mobile gaming continues to be a dynamic and expanding market, offering appealing content to all types of game players," said NPD games industry analyst Mat Piscatella.

Google set out to transform the video game world late last year with the launch of a service called Stadia that lets people access console-quality games as easily as they do email.

Google continues to refine Stadia, working to expand game selection and the kinds of internet-linked devices they can be played on.

Microsoft has been testing an xCloud online game platform that it plans to make available on Windows-powered personal computers.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has a PlayStation Now service that combines cloud gaming and title downloads that is synched to its latest consoles and Windows-powered personal computers.

An Apple Arcade mobile game service offers custom game apps downloaded to devices.

A rival Google Play Pass for Android-powered gadgets charges the same US$4.99 monthly subscription price as that of Arcade, which focuses on games for Apple iOS devices.

AFP