SuperData: Premium digital PC spending dropped almost a third year-on-year in January - but there's no need to panic

SuperData: Premium digital PC spending dropped almost a third year-on-year in January - but there's no need to panic

Research from New York's SuperData claims that digital spending on premium PC games was down 29 per cent year-on-year for January.

But before you start panicking, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Looking back to SuperData's report for January 2018, the firm noted that premium PC spending was up by a massive 24 per cent on the year before. This was likely due to the massive amount of money that Playerunknown's Battlegrounds was bringing in at the time. $200m was made in revenue during January 2018 between PUBG Corp's take on battle royale and Fortnite.

All of which is to say that this January isn't all too disappointing, rather the market returning to normal, with a much more palatable five per cent decline compared to the same month in 2017. 

Overall the digital games market dipped six per cent year-on-year. 

Speaking of Fortnite, revenue for that title dropped by 48 per cent month-on-month. Considering that this is comparing the Christmas and holiday period to a time when most people are trying to spend less, this is hardly surprising. Again, it's not that the game performed badly in January, rather the period it is being compared to was more successful than normal.

That being said, revenue almost halving month-for-month does suggest that spending for Epic's battle royale is starting to slow - but Fortnite's 2018 success was wildly unsustainable.

Valve's decision to move online tactical shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from a premium business model to free-to-play doesn't have people spending yet, either. Though monthly active users rose eight per cent year-on-year, digital spending declined "considerably" with newer users not spending money in-game. This isn't surprising - it takes time for consumers playing for free to come around to spending money. Well, Valve will certainly be hoping this is the case.

Here are the Top Ten games by digital spending for January 2019:

1. Dungeon Fighter Online, Neople
2. League of Legends, Riot Games
3. Fantasy Westward Journey Online II, NetEase
4. Crossfire, Smilegate
5. Fortnite, Epic Games
6. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, PUBG COrp
7. World of Warcraft, Blizzard
8. World of Tanks, Wargaming
9. The Sims 4, EA
10. Dota 2, Valve

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.