Are free-to-play games truly “free to play”? No, according to SuperData’s 2019 Year in Review report.
Digital games and interactive media combined for a total revenue of $120.1 billion in 2019, up four percent from last year. And the majority of the year’s digital games earnings came from free-to-play titles.
Free-to-play games, like Honour of Kings and League of Legends, accounted for “4 out of every 5 dollars” spent on digital games. And for the second year in a row, battle royale Fortnite generated the most revenue among free-to-play games with $1.8 billion.
The Epic Games’ hit title consistently releases new content and cosmetics, easily transforming players into consumers. Though League hosts a larger playerbase and audience than Fortnite, players are still more likely to spend money on the battle royale.
And mobile titles continue to rake in the most cash among digital games with over $64 billion, especially with publishers bringing PC and console games to smartphones. And it doesn’t seem like it’s going to let off anytime soon. Riot already has plans to release Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and Wild Rift, a mobile version of League, to smartphones. This will surely contribute to higher projections for mobile games’ 2020 forecast.
But every game didn’t enjoy that same level of success. Revenue brought in by premium titles, like Borderlands 3 and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, declined five percent in 2019. SuperData attributes this to fewer blockbuster game releases than in 2018, and expects premium games to rebound in early 2020.