Don't let that nasty slump in software sales on the NPD's 2013 report get you down; digital games market analyst firm SuperData has found plenty of positivity in non-traditional channels.
According to a report from the firm, the US digital games market hit $11.7 billion in 2013, up 11% from $10.5 billion in 2012.
In December alone, the digital sector tallied $1.2 billion during December, a 36% increase on the $862 million of December 2012.
Breaking it down, free-to-play games brought in $2.8 billion in 2013, up 45% year-on-year. Month-over-month, the category was static in term of sales, with $218 million, but saw a user base decline from 44.5 million in November to 40.6 million in December. That sales did not decline is attributed by SuperData to Dota 2's Wraithnight event and Planetside 2's improvements.
Traditional pay-to-play games, on the other hand, saw a 19% decrease in full year sales, dropping to $1.1 billion. Subscriptions held steady in December at $83 million, with a user base of 5.3 million, but microtransactions dropped to just 21% of monthly revenues.
On the mobile side, sales reached $3 billion in 2013, a 28% increase on 2012. In fact, mobile games peaked at a new record high in December, climbing 16% on November's total to $317 million. During the holidays, conversion rates were above average at 5.8%.
Social games drew in a whopping $1.8 billion in 2013, but that's down 21% from 2012. Nevertheless, December saw a new monthly sales record of $204 million, and average revenue per user hit $50. Superdata puts this down to the extra long holiday period this year.
DLC, including both PC and consoles, brought in $2.8 billion a 13% year on year increase from 2012's $2.5 billion. December sales reached $379 million, a huge 71% year-on-year increase.
"Especially PC downloadable has seen a dramatic rise in recent months, as monthly sales doubled since September, largely driven by Steam’s Winter Sale," SuperData's Joost van Dreunen said.
"The total digital console segment came up just south of $100 million in December. A strong push of last generation DLC packages on Black Friday sustained sales.”
SuperData's monthly and annual report makes an excellent foil to the NPD Group's, which is concerned with traditional retail only; the two combined often paint a much more cheery figures. Even so, there are still a number of spend channels - used, rentals, indies - that aren't covered by either report. basically, the industry is making money, even when the NPD's numbers go down. Hooray!