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NPD: Behind the Numbers, February 2009

March 21, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next

Software Top 20: What's Old Is New

The top 20 software titles for the month of February 2009 are shown below. Regular readers will recognize several returning titles.

Top 20 Software February 2009

Nintendo's Wii Fit again took the #1 spot on the chart while the other Wii regulars – Wii Play and Mario Kart – took #4 and #6, respectively. If sales of these titles continue through April (and there is no immediate reason to suspect otherwise) they will have all three remained in the top 10 together for a full year.

Furthermore, February marks the first month of what may be Wii Play's third year in the regular top 10 charts.

The other big story in the top 20 this month is the strong showing by the Xbox 360 software lineup. Not only did the Xbox 360 version of Capcom's Street Fighter IV take the #2 spot for the month with 446,000 units (about 43,000 units ahead of its PlayStation 3 counterpart), but the system landed a total of nine titles in the top 20.

Along with recent hits like Call of Duty: World at War, Left 4 Dead, and Fallout 3, one of the system's biggest games, Halo 3, returned to the top 20 for the first time in many months.

Leading the software for Sony's PlayStation 3 this month was the long-awaited Killzone 2, which sold a big 323,000 units for only two days on the market.

The only other Sony-system games appearing in the top 20 were Street Fighter IV (#3) and Call of Duty: World at War (#16). No PlayStation 2 nor PlayStation Portable software reached into the top 20 in February 2009.

Older software appearing in the top 20 isn't new, but it does appear that it is becoming more common. Take Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS, which just made its fourth consecutive appearance in the top 20, while New Super Mario Bros. (also for the Nintendo DS) made its second return. Seven titles in the February 2009 top 20 are older than 9 months.

What to make of this trend? It would appear that robust hardware sales – originally on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, but now also on the Xbox 360 – are increasing sales of popular titles, even when those titles are quite old.

It seems likely that the top 20 in the coming months will continue to contain the regular Wii titles, a version of Guitar Hero: World Tour (probably also for the Wii), and at least one version of Call of Duty: World at War.

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Sebastian Bender
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Can someone tell me what markets are represented by these numbers? Is it U.S. only?

Matt Matthews
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This particular NPD Group data is on the United States only.

Roberto Alfonso
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Just wondering, wouldn't these prepaid cards for Lost and the Damned be the minority of sales? I would expect to sell a big portion via credit card and the minority to those not owning them.

Jay Lee
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Bingo Roberto and the author of this article seemingly fails to mention that small fact. What is more NPD has zero way of tracking those. There is absolutely no way because MS does not freely give that data out, and NPD has zero way of tracking that internal Xbox Live data. The only way were going to get hard data is if MS or TT decides to provide it, and I would not expect any hard numbers before TT next earnings release. What we do know however is that it did somewhere north of Killzone 2 numbers for the month with the package and with the direct downloads which seems pretty obvious at this point that is where a majority of the sells actually occurred. Not too hard to add that up at this point.

Jay Lee
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Another small note worth mentioning is that the 1600 point cards were number four for the month in accessories, again not mentioned. The GTA IV DLC pack came with a direct download and not a 1600 point card, but 1600 points is exactly what consumers needed in order to purchase the DLC directly. However, this still does encompass the many ways people can buy the actual download. Whether it is buying points directly on Live or already having points saved for the content there is still zero way for NPD to actually track direct to download sales off Live in any given meaningful fashion.

Mike Lopez
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I am surprised MS did not release the Lost and the Damned numbers if only to steal some of the limelight from Killzone 2 and from the Sony platform as an extension.

@ Sebastian / @Matt

I believe NPD covers all North America, not just sales from the USA.

lee johnson
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The PS3 is going to very likely take the lead soon, because not only is Sony going to reduce price or create 'more' incentive to buy ps3, but you have 2 very important options you are all missing I think;

1) Bluray

2) If you factor in the 'real cost' of owning a 360 which incluces a Harddrive ( which is proprietary and VERY expensive unlike PS3 units, '&' a wireless adapter ( $99 + tax ) '&' non free xbox live, '&' a 'BluRay' player since HDDVD IS DEAD, then you are at that point 'well' beyoind the cost of the ps3, even if you factor in backwards compatability.

Games of course are going to be instrumental in selling systems as is seen, and Killzone 2 is only the 'beginning' of developers harnessing the PS3, just as PS2 before it , -if we remember our history ;)

Roberto Alfonso
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Lee, 1 and 2 seem contradictory. Back when PS3 was the cheaper blu-ray player, the sales were pretty bad. Now that there are players for less than half the PS3 value, you cannot say that blu-ray will make people buy a PS3.

If we remember our history...

a) Never a console manufacturer got a third cycle in the top in 30 years of gaming

b) Never the most powerful console of a generation ended at the top in 20 years of gaming


lee johnson
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Your forgetting something Roberto ,

1) Ps3 has the best Bluray player in it from what I've Reviews Ive read:
tml > ps3 Bluray player is noted as one of the absolute best period for various reasons.

2) You said absolutely nothing about total 'cost of ownership' ( gee, I wonder why ), and that alone I think spells doom for 360, at least in part due to the rise of BluRay, let alone the rise in cost of ownership of XBox Live ( $50/year does add up especially if your on a budget as most 'are' at this time in our economic problems).

Oh and btw, History doesn't always repeat itself, and we're looking at a very narrow window as relates to consoles.


Jay Lee
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Yes we've all heard those arguments before. PS3 got a Blu Ray bump back in 08 and many called it the new coming then. It didn't happen and I didn't see any reason for it to happen then and I knew exactly how 08 would end up playing out except it was an even a wider margin at the end than even I thought. I see this year playing out the same as last year although possibly with the 360 having an even better first half compared to last year, which seems likely at this point based on the first two months of data. February was the second strongest month for the 360 save the Halo 3 launch and holiday months.

If the Loot Ninja source is to be believed then yes Sony is prepping a price cut for next month. Seems pretty evident now with all these retailers trying to flush their stock out of channel with all these promotional gift card offerings that have been going on for well over a month now. However, according to their source its not only Sony prepping a nice price cut its Microsoft as well for April. So basically MS could once again pull the rug right from under them and that would certainly be something else to see. Thing is a lot folks have this preconceived notion that MS is done with price cuts for a good while, maybe or maybe not. They can drop the price of the Elite and flush that out of the channel and then they could drop the price the premium to $250. If they were really smart they could take the Arcade and throw in the old 20GB drives and price it for $179 before the holidays and if you think the $199 price point was a hot ticket Christmas item last year that SKU would make it look like a joke in comparison.

Since the $199 price drop the 360 lead over the PS3 has increased by right at ~1.7 million per NPD figures. At a 7.3 million lead there is little hope that dynamic is going change in the three or fours year left before the next gen arrives. If I had to make a guess now like at this point last year my best guess going into 2010 would be the lead will be even larger.

Roberto Alfonso
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Hmm... Lee, you keep pushing contradictory arguments. You say the PS3 is the best blu-ray player, to which we agree. However, immediately after you say that consumers are price aware and that the cost of ownership of an Xbox 360 is higher than the PS3. Don't you think that, if the consumers are aware about the cost of ownership, they wouldn't choose a cheaper blu-ray player? People buy the best DVD player or a cheaper one?

The key question is: who is going to teach the casual market about the cost of ownership? Microsoft is not going to, and Sony doesn't do anything either. Even if you are right and the total cost of an Xbox 360 is higher than a PS3, the consumer doesn't know that, or prefer to go with a Xbox 360 just because it is cheaper.

This console generation was decided during E3 2006 when Nintendo let everyone test the controller. The media chose them, and you know, the mass market (the one that decides where industries move) follows the media. It is possible that PlayStation 3 finishes ahead of Xbox 360 when all is said and done, but I doubt Sony will ever reach the 150 million unit barrier they wanted to.

About the history, your window was extremely short, just 6 or so years since PS2 launched until now. When I stretched it to 20 years, other facts you may not have realized appeared, others that you now dismiss because history "doesn't always repeat".

Roberto Alfonso
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Also, is $50 per year that high? It is just a bit more than $4 per month, or what is the same, not drinking a couple of cokes per month. Isn't cable more expensive? World of Warcraft subscription? A few cigars less per week?

Matt Matthews
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@Mike Lopez: Yes, I know about NPD Canada. That's why I put "this data", referring to this set of figures.

Dave Endresak
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I think that people are missing the very simple fact that it is not price that moves a piece of hardware so much as it is the software offering for the hardware. Price plays a part, yes, but ultimately it is the software that causes people to save up, sell off other stuff, or whatever in order to own the hardware (and associated software) they need or desire. PS3 has a very poor selection of software titles at present, at least as far as attracting a diverse audience, and this trend does not seem to be changing this year. In fact, PS3 cannot even appeal to hardcore gaming RPG fans as the PS2 did, particularly for Japanese RPGs.

I'd also like to add that the industry needs to stop assuming that everyone owns an HDTV (most of the market does not, a fact that Nintendo is quite happy to take advantage of with their simpler, cheaper hardware). The same is true for blu-ray discs; most of the market is not about to restock their library, and cannot even if they wanted to do so.

gstarr W
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Matt, does it annoy you as much as it annoys me to read comments about who's tech will ultimately win this generation, when clearly both have already lost? Hmmm. You know what? Thanks for the great article, but I'm going to go play Wii-fit. I've got my Wii-fit age down to 29 (I'm 38)!!!

Bob McIntyre
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Roberto, if you're going to argue that $50 a year isn't very much, then take the price difference between the two consoles, divide that by the number of years the machines will be used, and look at that number. It's probably lower than $50.

Dave, I think that what really moves hardware is marketing. It's about the perception of what the hardware offers. It's not the technical specifications of the hardware, and it's not the software lineup, it's the perception. Look at Metacritic's overall scores. Look at which platform has the most high-rated games. It's not really about that, though. It's not about what's really out there, or what's really being sold, and that's why "true cost of ownership" doesn't matter. It's about perceived software library. It's about perceived total cost of ownership.

Sega marketed "blast processing," a completely made-up term, and did well with it. They also totally dropped the ball on the Dreamcast, and people just waited a year to get the PS2, which was perceived as being superior. Whether or not the PS2 was superior isn't important. What matters is that people held off on buying a pretty nice machine on the perception that a different, unreleased machine was going to be better.

patrick thomas
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-If Blue-ray was going to do anything it would of had an affect in 08.

-WE are also in another format switch with many people relying on Downloads to Hard-Drive and Netflix's, rather dealing with another VHS-DVD headache.

-If you look at Console trends, 9/10 the numbers start to decline at this stage in the game. A rising Sun for Sony seems implausible.

-The World economy is at its lowest point in 80 years.. The Japanese are known for Stonewalling even at the face of defeat. If Sony does not reduce the PlayStation to $225-$175 then they are going to end up in the same place the other Japanese console makers have been for the last 30 years.. a Wiki entry.