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Uncharted 4 Leads Strong Month Of Software Sales In May NPD

Today brings news from the NPD group about how the video game industry fared over the course of May, 2016. And the analysis is surprisingly strong, with a number of observations available that show the overall health of the industry.

“Overall trends across new physical software, hardware, and accessories in May 2016 rose by 4 percent, or $ 19.3MM, due to 18 percent growth of new physical software, which offset the 10 percent decline of hardware, and the 2 percent decline in accessories, ” notes The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan.

The clear winner this month is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Nathan Drake’s final big adventure ruled the charts during the month; that’s especially striking given that the game only released on a single platform. The demon-killing fun of Doom was nipping at Naughty Dog’s heels. Overwatch rounds out the top three, but it’s worth noting that Blizzard’s wildly popular new shooter didn’t launch until late in the monthly cycle, so there’s good reason to believe we might see it show up again in the June numbers. Callahan notes that: “When comparing Overwatch sales for days in the market, this title doubled the sales of Doom.”

The NPD also noted that the video gaming hobby has a lot to cheer about right now as far as new console sales; the PS4 and Xbox One have 43 percent higher cumulative sales right now when compared against this same point in the previous generation of hardware sales. 

Here's the rundown of the top ten for the month. Platforms are listed in order by number of sales. 

May 2016

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
2. Doom 2016 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
3. Overwatch (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
4. Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3,  PC)
6. Minecraft (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
7. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, PS3, 360, PC)
9. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
10. Dark Souls III (PS4, Xbox One)


Our Take
While some big games offered up equally big sales in the month of May, I found the news about the current state of hardware sales to be the most heartening. While hardware sales are beginning to dip in this generation, the install base for the two big consoles is huge, and that can’t help but be a good thing for anyone excited about games. – The Feed

Dark Souls III Leads The Pack During A Slow Month In April NPD Report

As everything quiets down for the road to E3, April is usually a quieter month for the gaming industry, and not even Dark Souls could save us from a dip in overall game sales.

Overall, hardware and software sales were down this April when compared to last year. Hardware sales dropped 23 percent since last year. In spite of this, both the Xbox One and PS4 are trending over 40 percent higher in overall sales compared to where the PS3 and Xbox 360 were at this point in their lifespan.

In terms of software, there weren’t too many high performing titles. A few exceptions are Ratchet & Clank and Dark Souls III, which were both the best launches for their respective series. Dark Souls III, in particular, sold nearly double what Dark Souls II did during launch. However, compared to April of 2015, this year just couldn’t compete. Mortal Kombat X, in particular, was such a strong selling title in April 2015 that its sales exceeded the sales of every game released in April of this year by 18 percent.

While overall numbers were down, Microsoft seems to have had a good month.

“Thanks to our fans, April 2016 was the best month in history for global engagement on Xbox One, driven by the greatest games lineup, including the critically-acclaimed Quantum Break, Dark Souls III, and Tom Clancy’s The Division,” says Microsoft’s corporate vice president of marketing Mike Nichols. “We received a strong response to the Gears of War 4 Versus Multiplayer Beta last month, which lasted two weeks and attracted more than 1.6 million unique players who helped us test and shape what is expected to be our biggest game of the year…We look forward to sharing more on our vision and plans for continuing to deliver the best gaming experience on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live this year at E3 in June.”

Here is the full top ten software list for February 2016:

  1. Dark Souls III (PS4, XBO)
  2. Ratchet & Clank (PS4)
  3. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  4. The Division (PS4, XBO, PC)
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  6. Minecraft (XBO, 360, PS4, PS3)
  7. Quantum Break (XBO)
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  9. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  10. Star Fox Zero (Wii U)


Our Take
Slumps like this are not a big deal; they’re bound to happen and are nothing to worry about. Last April was fairly strong, so it’s not surprising that this year couldn’t compete, and hardware sales are strong overall. I’m also not surprised that Dark Souls III sold well, but I am happy to see Ratchet & Clank high on this list. I’m also glad that Quantum Break seems to be performing well. Finally, Grand Theft Auto V's staying power really speaks to the quality of Rockstar's work. – The Feed

PlayStation Leads Hardware And Software In March NPD Report

March isn’t always a big month for video game sales, but a couple of strong releases in the first part of 2016 are fueling some strong statements from industry leaders.

Sony has released a statement touting its position as the top-selling console and software leader in March. The PS4 maker is also remarking on the success of The Division on PS4; that console has seen the most sales for the new and highly popular Ubisoft game. The PS4 is also known for its exclusive relationship with The Division’s competitor on the market – Destiny – and the news that players are also flocking to the PS4 for the Division is good news for Sony. 

Even so, Microsoft is also hailing the success of The Division as one reason why global hours spent on the Xbox One are up 89 percent over last year. In addition, Microsoft is calling out Killer Instinct: Season 3 for its high engagement numbers; more than 6 million unique players make this March the best month ever for that franchise. 

When looking at software and hardware together, sales in the video game industry were flat compared to the same time last year, but hardware sales dropped by 19 percent, even as software sales rose to fill the gap.

Though hardware sales were down, portable hardware had the highest volume of sales, while new generation consoles tailing. Older generation consoles like PS3 and 360 are now a virtual non-presence in overall hardware sales, accounting for only 2 percent of overall sales.

Along with the previously mentioned success of The Division, which incidentally was the highest selling Tom Clancy title in history, Ubisoft's Far Cry Primal helped establish the publisher in the number one slot for the first quarter of 2016. 

Check out the top 10 games of last month below. 

March 2016

  1. Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  2. Far Cry: Primal (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  5. UFC 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
  6. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  7. Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
  8. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  10. Minecraft ( PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)


Our Take
The Division is a clear highpoint for the video game industry last month. Alongside the earlier success of Destiny, it's clear that the shared world shooter experience is one that resonates strongly with players. I'm also interested to see that the Wii U continues to see strong contenders in the monthly top ten through Zelda and Pokken Tournament, proving that against the seeming odds, the Wii U still has some life left. – The Feed

February 2016 NPD: PlayStation 4 Leads Hardware Sales, Far Cry Primal Tops Software Sales

Sony has claimed the top spot for hardware and software sales for February 2016 according to the latest NPD report. In January, Sony and Black Ops III posted the highest numbers. This month, Sony continued its hardware and software dominance, while Far Cry Primal was the highest selling physical release.

Overall, hardware and software sales were down when compared to last year, as hardware and new physical software combined to drop 12 percent when compared to the same time frame last year. Hardware sales dropped by 23 percent when compared to last February, with portable hardware taking the biggest hit at 58 percent. According to NPD, this is thanks in large part to Nintendo's February 2015 launch of the New Nintendo 3DS hardware, which served as the highest selling hardware of February 2015. A year removed from the launch, sales have slowed, and the February 2016 numbers reflect that. However, portable hardware wasn't the only culprit in contributing to the overall decline, as seventh and eight generation hardware also declined. Last-gen consoles saw a massive drop to the tune of 77 percent when compared to last year, while current-gen hardware only dipped by 6 percent. According to the report, current-gen hardware now accounts for 86 percent of all hardware sales in the industry, as more and more gamers move to the latest tech from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Software sales dropped 10 percent when compared to last February, but several sequels delivered strong results, pushing it them to outperform their predecessors. Far Cry Primal, February's top game, outperformed Far Cry 4 if you adjust for how many days it was available last month when compared to how many days Far Cry 4 was available in its launch month of November 2014. Fire Emblem Fates also sold well, but its split into multiple SKUs hurt its standing. According to the NPD Group, if Fire Emblem Fates' sales were combined, it would have placed third overall for new physical sales, topping the juggernaut that is Grand Theft Auto V and tripling the first-month sales for Fire Emblem: Awakening. Since the game was released as multiple SKUs on 3DS, however, only Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright charted in the top ten, coming in at number 9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also outsold its predecessor by 90 percent if the days each game was available in its first month were adjusted. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also claimed the boast of being the top-selling single SKU release based on its PS4 version, but it landed fourth on the overall top ten list for the month.

Despite these individual successes in the software space, overall spending dropped by 4 percent when compared to last year, while overall units sold dropped by 12 percent. Just like in hardware, portable software saw a big decline (30 percent) due to February 2015 holding the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Last-gen software also dropped massively to the tune of 52 percent, while current-gen software grew by 14 percent.

The leader in both hardware and software sales in February 2016 was Sony. In response to this news, Sony provided the following statement:

"We would like to thank our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling hardware platform and the software sales leader in February, according to NPD. We continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth for PS4 hardware and software and are truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm from gamers. We will continue to deliver amazing gaming experiences with the upcoming launches of Ratchet & Clank, MLB The Show 16 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End."

Microsoft also had good news to celebrate, as exclusive game sales and hours spent gaming sharply rose. Microsoft provided the following statement from Mike Nichols, corporate vice president of Xbox marketing:

"The unmatched lineup of games available on Xbox One continues to generate a strong response from gamers as seen through global Xbox Live engagement and exclusive game sales. Compared to February 2015, exclusive Xbox One U.S. game sales drove a 49 percent increase and the total number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One worldwide rose 93 percent. Earlier this week, we launched the Xbox One 'Tom Clancy’s The Division’ Bundle to coincide with Ubisoft’s release of ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’ and looking ahead to this spring, fans can look forward to the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated ‘Quantum Break,’ launching on both Xbox One and Windows 10 on April 5, as well as the built-for-Windows 10 visual showcase, ‘Forza Motorsport 6: Apex.’ We are truly grateful to our fans for choosing to play the greatest games lineup in Xbox history across Windows 10 devices, and are excited to share more in the coming months on our full lineup of holiday exclusives as well as new innovations, features and experiences coming to Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live.”

Though the rest of the industry's overall sales declined when compared to February 2015, accessories enjoyed modest growth of 1% as controllers and headsets sold well, while point and subscription cards eclipsed the $ 1 billion mark for the first time on a 12-month rolling basis.

Here is the full top ten software list for February 2016:

  1. Far Cry Primal (PS4, XBO)
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS4, PC)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PS4, XBO)
  5. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  6. Lego Marvel's Avengers (PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U, PS4, 3DS, Vita)
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4)
  8. Minecraft (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)
  9. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS)
  10. Fallout 4 (PS4, XBO, PC)

Our Take
With so many questions surrounding Far Cry Primal leading up to launch, it might sound surprising that it outsold the last numbered entry in the series, Far Cry 4, when adjusted for how many days it was available in its first month. However, with the NPD numbers demonstrating how many consumers are moving on to current generation hardware, it comes as much less of a surprise. As expected, the mainstay entries in the monthly NPD reports – Call of Duty, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto – remain strong on the list. The hardware numbers may seem alarming, but it's just further indication that people have flocked to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U and that the consumer support for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii will only continue to dwindle from here. – The Feed

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November 2015 NPD: PlayStation 4 Leads Console Sales, Black Ops III Tops Games

The November 2015 NPD report is in, and with PlayStaton 4 back on top after last month. The industry grew, and current-generation hardware continues to speed ahead of last-gen console sales performance.

Sony took the opportunity to reiterate its sell-through of 30.2 million consoles, also indicating that November 2015 was the strongest month ever for the PlayStation Store. NPD says that Sony’s performance was part of a larger push, as Microsoft also had its best month for Xbox One. This makes November 2015 the best month on record for current-generation sales, besting December 2014 (the former record-holder). The total segment (hardware, software, and accessories) grew by two percent over last November.

It’s not all good news, especially if you are holding off on upgrading. Last-generation software sales nose-dived by 76 percent in terms of revenue. Current-generation hardware sales represented 93 percent of the total. It appears that software will reasonably wind down for last-generation consoles significantly in the new year.

Black Ops III took the month, despite an impressive push from Fallout 4. Interestingly, despite the new relationship between Activision and Sony, more Xbox One copies were sold at U.S. Retail.

Activision notes that it held the top spot by a “wide-margin” when considering both revenue and units sold through. Further, according to NPD, Black Ops III was the largest release in terms of retail sales of any game in North America dating back to 2013. For a series that appeared to be starting its decline, this is good news for Activision.

Star Wars: Battlefront is already making the most of the license, with growth anticipated through the holiday as The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a notable absence, though Halo 5: Guardians continues to hang onto a top 10 spot. 

Microsoft issued a statement saying that first-party software sales are up 72 percent year-over-year for fall rush (August through November). Here’s the full list of best-selling software at retail:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  • Fallout 4 (PS4, XBO, PC)
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2015 (PS4, XBO, PC)
  • Madden NFL 16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  • NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  • FIFA 16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  • Need For Speed 2015 (PS4, XBO)
  • Halo 5: Guardians (XBO)
  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PS4, XBO, PC)
  • Just Dance 2016 (Wii, NWU, 360, XBO, PS4, PS3)

As a reminder, NPD represents retail sales in the United States. Digital and bundled software sales are not included.


Our Take
There’s a lot to break down here. First, even with Sony on top of the hardware heap, it’s good news for all platform holders. Video game sales were big on Black Friday, even more so than last year. Activision has every reason to be excited about Black Ops III’s performance, especially after its recent investment in the Call of Duty World League.

It appeared that the annual series might be starting to lose its luster, but leave it to Treyarch to reinvigorate the franchise. As for EA, Star Wars Battlefront’s performance has been questionable thus far, but there’s good news. We knew it was the best-selling Star Wars launch (first month sales) of all time, but it beat out Star Wars: The Force Unleashed by a wide margin of 21 percent.

While it appears that the hardware rankings have solidified worldwide, the death of consoles was drastically overstated. Hardware continues to outpace last generation sales, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 combining to outpace their predecessors by 47 percent at the 25-month point. – The Feed

October 2015 NPD: Strong Sales All Around As Halo Leads The Pack

The October NPD numbers are out, and while it doesn’t seem that too much has changed since last year, gamers (and game makers) have plenty of reasons to be happy. Here's the full breakdown.

NPD Group reports that October sales were up slightly since last year. Overall video game market's sales experienced a modest 2 percent jump since last year around this time. Much of this was driven by accessory sales, which grew by 18 percent, or just under $ 30 million. This includes subscription card sales, which were up 38 percent from October 2014, making this the best October for video game subscription cards on record.

Hardware sales were pretty neck-and-neck with the numbers from last year. Console sales grew by 3 percent, while portables sales declined 27 percent. 

Gamers are still buying plenty of games, but the sale of new physical copies of games actually decreased by 3 percent when compared to last year’s numbers. However, it’s worth noting that the NDP doesn’t actually track downloadable numbers, so it’s plausible that total game sales are fairly even – or even exceed – last year’s data. 

Here is the full top ten list:

  1. Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)
  2. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  3. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PS4, Xbox One)
  4. Madden NFL 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  5. WWE 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  6. FIFA 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  7. Destiny: The Taken King (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  8. Yoshi's Wooly World (WiiU)
  9. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
  10. Rock Band 4 (Xbox One, PS4)

As always, the platforms are listed in the order of sales, and do not include hardware bundles. 


Our Take
It's great to see that game sales are holding strong. It’s not too surprising to see Halo 5: Guardians and the usual sports titles on here, but I’m happy to see that Rock Band 4 is also doing well. And it’s nice to see that not too many people were turned away from Assassin's Creed: Syndicate after the debacle that was Unity. – The Feed

June 2015 NPD: All Good News As Batman Leads Rising Sales

The June NPD numbers are out, and while the data tells a familiar tale for the leading current-gen consoles, everyone has reasons to be happy. Here's the full breakdown.

NPD Group reports that June sales were up from last year in
hardware, software, and accessories, with an increase in total sales of 18

As Sony shared
earlier today
, the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console for the
month of June, as it was last
. Sony attributes much of the success to its Arkham
Knight bundles
, and the PS4 also led software sales for the month.

However, Microsoft still has its own bragging rights,
stating that Xbox One sales are up 51 percent from last June, and that Xbox
Live users are up 22 percent. Microsoft also claims that preview participants
have racked up over 500,000 hours playing 360 games via the Xbox One's upcoming
backward compatibility feature, and that the Xbox One game lineup received more
nominations (242) and awards (110) at this year's E3 than any previous year in
the Xbox brand's history.

Industry-wide, software sales were up 19 percent compared to
last June. Batman: Arkham Knight led the charge, despite not going on sale
until June 23. Hardware sales were up 8 percent compared to last June, with
current-gen console sales up 15 percent. Interactive toys were up 44 percent,
leading to an overall increase of 34 percent for accessory sales.

Here is the full top ten list:

  1. Batman: Arkham Knight
    (PS4, XBO, PC)
  2. The Elder Scrolls Online:
    Tamriel Unlimited (XBO, PS4, PC)
  3. LEGO: Jurassic World (360,
    XBO, PS4, PS3, 3DS, NWU, PSV)
  4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    (PS4, XBO, PC)
  5. Splatoon (NWU)
  6. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO,
  7. Grand Theft Auto V (XBO,
    PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  8. Mortal Kombat X (PS4, XBO)
  9. NBA 2K15 (360, PS4, XBO,
    PS3, PC)
  10. Call of Duty: Advanced
    Warfare (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)  

As always, the platforms are listed in the order of sales, and do not include hardware bundles – including the aforementioned Arkham Knight PS4 bundles, making its number-one win all the more impressive.

Our Take
It's great to see that
sales are up, as gamers continue to flock to the latest generation of consoles.
Games built exclusively for the current-gen systems are clearly paying off,
with Arkham Knight, Elder Scrolls Online, and The Witcher 3 all ranking high.
However, I'm astonished by the staying power of Grand Theft Auto V and
Minecraft – especially considering that NPD still doesn't count digital
purchases. Hopefully the pace of sales keeps up during the summer slump. – The Feed