The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has revealed new data showing kids want video game-related gifts more than anything else this holiday season. But if you dig into the data a little bit more, you’ll discover that most kids don’t want a new physical game. Instead, what they’re really looking for in their stockings this year is digital currency and video game subscriptions.
If you’ve been paying attention to the video game industry over the last few years, you’ve likely picked up on the fact that digital games are very popular. In 2022, 90% of video games sold in the UK were digital. So it’s not surprising that few kids are asking for new physical Xbox or PlayStation games. But what might surprise (or depress) you is how most kids seemingly just want Vbucks or in-game subscriptions.
This data comes from a recent report published by the ESA that shows what gifts 10 to 17-year-old kids in the United States are asking for this Christmas. According to the ESA, the most requested gifts were video game-related, making up 72% of the responses received. The split was 86% of boys and 59% of girls asking for video game stuff. But what specifically did they want? Well, the top answer was “game subscriptions” at 39%. Closely behind was “in-game currency” at 29%. And below all of that was physical video games at just 22%.
You might be wondering what “game subscriptions” means in this context. Kotaku has reached out for clarification. I assume Game Pass and PS Plus are counted as part of this category, but it’s also very likely that these younger gamers are interested in premium subscriptions for games like Roblox, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto Online.
Anecdotally, most people I know who have kids tell me that what these younger players want more than anything is digital currency—like Robux—and subscriptions that provide extra content in games like Fortnite. This is what happens when “forever games” that are updated every few weeks for years and years become extremely popular. Why ask for a new game when instead you could get more stuff in the game you and your friends already play every night?