For months and months, we've tracked the best-selling games at both Amazon ($NASDAQ:AMZN) and GameStop ($NYSE:GME). And for months and months, all we did was see the same items on the top of the list: gift cards, consoles, bundles, toys, merch, shirts, accessories, and a ton of things not actually physical video games. 

But as the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered buying games in a store almost impossible, and the rise of digital distribution has rendered it obsolete, we all have to reckon with the fact that most games are bought through an online store nowadays. There is no more going back, and the best example of this is with Animal Crossing, the number one game of 2020 in terms of sales. The last two months saw it at number one, but this month saw the digital code for the game being the top seller.

The best-sellers lists are based on sales-rank data reported by both companies every day throughout the month. In this case, we looked just at the "Video Games" category, averaged each product's sales rank for the year, and then weighted based on the number of days each product remained a best-seller.

Both lists had a cutoff: a minimum of 12 days on the best-sellers list. Some games were number 1 for a day or two, but then fell off, and that doesn't accurately represent what sold the best during the month. We also removed all duplicate listings so we don't double-count any one item.

This is also heavily weighted towards the consoles, and not the PC, since they don't print discs anymore for computers. This means we're solely looking at the Nintendo Switch ($TYO:7974), Sony PlayStation 4 ($NYSE:SNE), and Microsoft Xbox One ($NASDAQ:MSFT).

Amazon

Name

Category Rank (Avg)

Platform

$10 Nintendo eShop Gift Card [Digital Code]

2.3

Nintendo Switch

$10 Xbox Gift Card [Digital Code]

2.6

Xbox One

Animal Crossing: New Horizons [Digital Code]

4.3

Nintendo Switch

Roblox Gift Card - 800 Robux [Online Game Code]

8.8

Various

PlayStation Plus: 1 Month Membership [Digital Code]

9

PlayStation 4

SanDisk 128GB MicroSDXC UHS-I Memory Card

9.1

Nintendo Switch

$20 Xbox Gift Card [Digital Code]

9.1

Xbox One

BENGOO G9000 Stereo Gaming Headset

12

Various

Xbox Live Gold: 12 Month Membership [Digital Code]

12.8 Xbox One

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

15.5 Nintendo Switch

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector

16.3 Nintendo Switch

PlayStation Plus: 12 Month Membership [Digital Code]

17.8 PlayStation 4

NBA 2K20: 15000 VC Pack - [PS4 Digital Code]

18.7 PlayStation 4
Final Fantasy VII: Remake 25.6 PlayStation 4

It's incredibly common for gift cards to be the bulk of the items on best-seller lists, which makes it impossible to tell what games people are actually buying. We can tell that online services, like PSN and Xbox Live, as well as live-service games like Roblox, are really the money makers in the gaming industry. Outside of Animal Crossing being downloaded to Nintendo Switch consoles, the newly released Final Fantasy VII remake was the only other top-selling game of April.

GameStop

Name

Category Rank (Avg)

Platform

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

1.9

Nintendo Switch

PS4 Slim 1TB Black

4.2

PlayStation 4

Switch Lite Turquoise System Starter Bundle

4.7

Nintendo Switch

PS4 Pro 1TB

4.7

PlayStation 4

Xbox One X NBA 2K20 Special Edition Bundle 1TB

13.2

Xbox One

PlayStation VR Blood and Truth and Everybody Golf VR Bundle

14.9

PlayStation 4

PlayStation Store Gift Card $50

17.7

PlayStation 4

Microsoft Xbox One Black Wireless Controller

17.9

Xbox One

PlayStation Store $20

22.7

PlayStation 4

Sony New DualShock 4 Black Wireless Controller

24

PlayStation 4
Xbox One S Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Bundle 1TB 29.3 Xbox One
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 34.8 Nintendo Switch
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 36.7 Nintendo Switch

For GameStop, it's less about gift cards (since you can just buy the code on Amazon and skip having anything shipped to you) and more about console bundles, which are usually on sale. It's interesting to see perennial Switch stalwarts in Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart sell well since clearly new Switch owners gravitate towards those hits for their new consoles.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: