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2008's Top-Selling Games So Far: How They Stack Up
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2008's Top-Selling Games So Far: How They Stack Up

September 23, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

Each month the NPD Group releases data about sales in the U.S. video game industry, including a closely watched list of the top 10 selling software titles. Unfortunately for market data mavens, the top 10 provides only a tiny window into the larger market.

When dozens of games are released each month across no fewer than six console and handheld platforms, there simply aren't enough data points to see how games are selling on each platform.

However, in coordination with the NPD Group, Gamasutra has exclusive data on the top 5 titles for each of the current-generation consoles.

While these are simply additional small windows on the market and not the type of broad view that a top 100 or even top 20 might provide, they do help illuminate what kind of software is selling on which platforms.

PlayStation 3

Here are the top five selling titles for the year on the PlayStation 3, through the end of August 2008.

Note that this ranking does not include collector's editions and software bundled with hardware. Therefore, the Metal Gear Solid 4 ranking does not count the Collector's Edition, nor does it count copies bundled with 80GB PlayStation 3 units.

Seeing Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 at the top of the listing is not a huge surprise. The former moved 1.4 million copies (including the Collector's Edition) in its first two months, and Kojima's latest opus moved around a million in its first month when hardware bundled copies were counted.

These two games were heavily promoted and were considered system sellers, although only MGS4 can probably claim that moniker with any real certainty.

Meanwhile, we now know that the PS3 version of Call of Duty 4 had enough sales after Christmas 2007 to put it somewhere north of 600,000 copies for this year. (The NPD Group did not release unit sales data to us for these titles, so rough estimates will have to suffice.)

The staying power of Call of Duty 4 is simply amazing, and Activision will be fortunate to score again this year with Call of Duty 5.

The last entry in the list, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is a bit of a surprise, at least to us. We had thought it probable that Devil May Cry 4 would have beaten out GT5P, but these figures suggest otherwise.

Depending on how well GT5P has sold through the PlayStation Store, it is possible that it has sold more copies (via retail and download combined) than the PS3 version of Madden.

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Nils Haukås
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It will be exciting to see if there will be more innovative games featured in all these lists in the future. Is the eagerness to reach the greater public hurting originality?

Nintendo's list is surely innovative, but how long will Super Mario games manage to carry the torch? The two top additions are sequels, or in other words calculated "sure-sellers".

Hope lies with those smaller companies who can risk going for those quirky and distinct gaming experiences. I think next-gen/current-gen graphics will be downplayed in the future, from a marketing point of view the important part is standing out. Why spend so much time on looks, that seems to be the norm, at the expense of gameplay and amount of content?

With all the consolidation in the industry, I think we'll see small independent startups taking the spotlight soon. :)

Razien Bordello
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@Nils Haukås:

They already are. Look at online distribution in all platforms. Games like Braid are huge hits.

And mid developers are already investing on the Wii: LostWinds (Frontier), The Conduit (High Voltage Software), Cursed Mountain (Deep Silver), Sadness (Nibris)... The lower costs of production allows them to bring technology that rivals the big companies, and to get recognition (and sales) by providing great software.

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I'd say that Wii Play is a hardware product with a bonus game included, and doesn't belong in this category.

Nils Haukås
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@Razien Bordello

Thanks for the info on those games. (Yes, I knew about Braid) :) It's just so easy for games like that to drown in the massive hype of other games, I had not heard about the other one's. Maybe that wind game.

So, we can hope that the larger gamer mass will pick up those original games and try them out. (Just like with Braid) So, definitively change is happening as you said. (I stand corrected)

Still looking at those lists, there will be some time before we see very original or genre pushing titles appearing as bestsellers. That's perhaps a consumerchange we're seeing with Braid. :)