Here's How Many Video Games Released In 2021–And How Few Had Physical Editions

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The total number of video games released in 2021 grew substantially compared to 2020, and the percentage of games that had a physical version continued to fall as the industry overall pushes further toward digital. This US-based data, and more key findings, comes from NPD analyst Mat Piscatella.

Posting on Twitter, Piscatella said the total number of video game releases in 2021 was up 64% compared to 2020, while the percentage of games that had a physical version fell below 10%. According to Piscatella’s findings, the Switch’s many digital exclusives “did the heavy lifting.” The number of Switch games that did not have a physical version reached 980 in 2021 compared to 357 in 2020, Piscatella found.

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Overall, the number of games that released physically in the US was “basically flat” in 2021, reaching 228, compared to 236 in 2020. Comparing to the peak of the previous generation of consoles, the number of games released physically in 2008 was 1,267, which shows just how much the industry has changed.

Games released on Steam are part of this calculation and others, Piscatella confirmed to GameSpot. The data shows a clear trend: the percentage of physical game releases continues to drop.

Piscatella also revealed that almost 1,700 games launched on Nintendo platforms in 2021, which is up 63% compared to the ~1,000 titles released in 2020. More specifically, this works out to about 4.6 games released on a Nintendo platform every day in 2021. “If you thought Switch was a far more crowded platform in 2021… well… it was,” Piscatella said.

As for other platforms, the number of PlayStation game releases in 2021 was 980 in 2021, up 33% compared to 742 in 2020. On Xbox, there were 725 new releases, up 45% compared to 500 in 2020.

The next big news drop from the NPD Group is coming on January 14, which is when it will announce the best-selling games, consoles, and accessories for the US in December 2021 and the full year. It’s expected that Call of Duty: Vanguard will be 2021’s best-selling game overall.

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