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NPD: Behind the Numbers, June 2009

July 20, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

Year-to-Date Top 5 Software

The Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation 3 are currently the focus of much of the American videogame market. The NPD Group provided us with exclusive ranking data on the top five games for each platform so far in 2009. (Note: The rankings here do not include limited or collector's edition versions of each game.)

PlayStation 3 software in 2009 is led by Sony's own first-person shooter, Killzone 2, launched in February 2009. As of the end of April, sales of Killzone 2 had reached 677,000 and we estimate that it is nearing 750,000 at mid-year.

The second and third best-selling titles on the PS3 are both from Capcom: Resident Evil 5 and Street Fighter IV. The sales figures here are a bit less clear, since each of these games had a collector's edition.

However, the fourth title, THQ's UFC 2009 Undisputed, does not have a collector's edition and has had sales in excess of 500,000 since its May 2009 launch. The final title, MLB '09: The Show, is Sony's first-party baseball title and we estimate that its sales are in excess of 425,000.

PS3 Top 5 YTD

Capcom's Resident Evil 5 tops the list on Microsoft's console, and its sales are known to be in excess of a million units, including the collector's edition. THQ's UFC 2009 Undisputed ranks second on the Xbox 360 in 2009, with known sales of 1.03 million units in its two months on the market.

Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: World at War takes #3 on the YTD chart, although its sales are difficult to estimate given its rankings this year and the fact that a collector's edition of the game is available.

The last two games, Microsoft's Halo Wars and Capcom's Street Fighter IV we estimate both have sales of 500,000 to 700,000, but again the situation is complicated by the existence of collector's editions.

Xbox 360 Top 5 YTD

The lists for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 share several similarities. Both have three titles in common (although ranked differently) and both feature key first-party properties (two from Sony, one from Microsoft). Also, with the exception of World at War on the Xbox 360, all of the listed games were released in February 2009 or later.

Moreover, the sales are relatively modest compared to what we'll find on the Nintendo Wii list. On Sony's platform the five top-selling titles each have sales between 750,000 and 425,000 units. On the Xbox 360, the top five titles span the range from just over a million units down to 500,000 units. 

The list for the Wii is quite different, as we'll see below.

Wii Top 5 YTD

Here three first-party titles claim the first three spots: Wii Fit, Wii Play, and Mario Kart Wii. Sales of these titles are easily determined: 3.06 million, 1.5 million, and 1.4 million, respectively. All of those are clearly well above sales of the #1 title on the lists for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

It was expected that EA Sports Active would rank fourth on the Wii, given its robust sales of 630,000 units since its release two months ago. However, we were surprised to see LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga take the #5 spot on the Wii list.

This game ranked at the bottom of the top 20 list for the first three months of 2009, but then dropped out of view. According to the NPD Group, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga  for the Wii has sold over 400,000 units so far in 2009.

This means that the fifth best-selling game on the Wii in 2009 has sales on par with the fifth best-selling game on the PlayStation 3 during the same period. The difference, of course, is that MLB '09: The Show just came out in March 2009 while LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga has been available for 20 months as of the middle of this year.

In fact, only one game out of the five best-sellers in 2009 on the Wii, EA Sports Active, is actually from 2009. Two are from 2008 and another two from 2007.

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Justin Leeper
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PS3 hardware sales down 30%? Only 28 PS3 games have sold over 100k this year, according to latest NPD YTD stats? It just isn't looking good for Sony right now. You wonder when the red lights and alarms will start going to go off. Can they really be happy with how things are going?

I know my personal tide is shifting, as my PS3 has been less dusty in 2009. Games like Killzone 2 and Infamous are showing the console has good exclusives. However, the latter isn't doing that well -- especially compared to Prototype, which I believe shipped AFTER it. PSN has some good exclusives, too, but it probably isn't enough to get 360 owners to cross over.

Ian Fisch
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So does the rock band and guitar hero data include online downloads? It would appear as if it doesn't. It's a shame that as things move more and more online that sales figures become more and more opaque. A couple years from now the NPD results are gonna be very misleading (as they are for PC game sales). I just hope they find a way to tally online sales.

Roberto Alfonso
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Anita from NPD stated digital downloads have little impact in overall sales nowadays. They are much harder to measure (if everyone is going to pull a Valve, then they would not be able to correctly measure the sales).

Matt Allmer
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I hope NPD is developing channels/methods to measure digital download, mobile, web and social games. These are no longer "little brother" sectors of the industry. There's a clear shift in both consumption and development.

These numbers will not be very helpful if we measure a rapidly evolving industry with outdated methods.

John Petersen
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I guess it's about time to start shorting out the CPU's.

Ken Masters
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Great analysis, Matt, as always.

Will be very interesting to see which direction the industry goes in this latter half of the year. I think the first half of 2008 was full of blockbuster titles that had sales very much skyrocketing out of the ordinary. I think we'll see this happen in the second of half of 2009, bringing it all into balance with last year. I still think there's a good chance that this year's tally will slightly edge out last years - but we shall see.

Kevin Jones
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"The September releases of Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band will probably dominate much of the industry's attention during that month, along with Halo 3: ODST on the Xbox 360"

ODST on the 360 alone will annihilate GH5 or Beatles Rock Band in September sales. It's not even going to be close. ODST stands a pretty good chance of being the best selling game in the year on a single platform, with Modern Warfare 2(360) and Wii Fit pretty being the only games that can give ODST any competition. Even your own survey from OTX data gives ODST the highest purchasing intent for all second half games by some distance.

Kevin Jones
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If 360 software sales were up by 3 million, and PS3 software sales were up by 3 million as well in the first half of 2009, and Wii software sales were even with 2008 levels, and yet overall, software sales were down by 8 million, that means that software sales for the DS, PS2 and PSP were down by 14 million, yes?

Adam Piotuch
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I don't think these numbers are going to matter for Sony all that much once the PS3 slim is launched. Presumably at a lower price point, with fewer features, making it a different SKU that will sell concurrently with the base PS3 model. Activision threatened Sony for a price cut for PS3, but I think this was in the plans for a while. Considering Sony has released new versions of the PS3 every year around the September time frame, I don't believe anyone should be surprised.

John Vincent Andres
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@ Kevin Jones. Don't underestimate the "casuals." Beatles: Rock Band is being released on the Wii and PS3. Even my parents are excited about the game. It just may be a contender to ODST. About the OTX survey, was that a poll of the gaming population? Is there a possibility of bias in that data?