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Video game sales spike as we shelter in place

While staying home throughout the first part of the year, people bought a record number of video games, according to new data.

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Sales of Animal Crossing helped push game sales to a record level in the first quarter of the year.

Érika García/CNET

As US gamers stayed home during the first quarter of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic, they spent a record $10.86 billion on computer games, hardware and accessories, according to a report from The NPD Group analytics firm. Sales were up 9% from the same quarter a year ago.

For the first quarter, $9.58 billion was spent just on games, up 11% from a year ago, NPD said. Driving the recording-setting quarter were sales of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Doom Eternal, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, MLB The Show 20 and NBA 2K20.

Nintendo Switch devices had an especially good sales quarter, the research firm said, and helped pushed hardware sales up 2% over a year ago, to $773 million.

"Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time," said Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group. "As people have stayed at home more, they've utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends. Whether it was on console or mobile, PC or virtual reality, gaming experienced play and sales growth during the first quarter."