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NPD: U.S. January Retail Video Game Sales Sink 13 Percent
NPD: U.S. January Retail Video Game Sales Sink 13 Percent
February 11, 2010 | By Kris Graft

February 11, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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More: Console/PC



As widely expected by analysts, U.S video game retail sales during January were down for the year, as New Super Mario Bros. Wii outsold January's epic RPG, Mass Effect 2 from BioWare.

NPD Group said Thursday that retail video game industry sales in the U.S. (software, hardware, accessories) were $1.17 billion, a 13 percent decrease from January 2009.

The hardware category led the decline, generating $353.7 million for the month, down 21 percent. Since January 2009, all video game console makers made significant console price cuts, driving unit demand but leading to lower revenues. Nintendo's Wii and DS led hardware sales during January, despite seeing year-on-year declines.

PlayStation 3 led growth, although Xbox 360 still managed to outsell Sony's console during the month, with Microsoft claiming an 8 million-unit life-to-date lead in the U.S. over Sony's year-younger PS3.

Here are hardware unit sales for the month, plus their growth rates compared to sales from January 2009:

1. Nintendo Wii: 465,800 (-31 percent)
2. Nintendo DS: 422,200 (-17 percent)
3. Xbox 360: 332,800 (+7.7 percent)
4. PlayStation 3: 276,900 (+36 percent)
5. PSP: 100,100 (-42 percent)
6. PlayStation 2: 41,600 (-59 percent)

Software declined 12 percent to $597.9 million for the month, greater than predictions by Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who forecasted just a 4 percent drop. Nintendo's November release, New Super Mario Bros. Wii led software unit sales, selling 656,700 units for the month.

The game led the Xbox 360 version of Electronic Arts' and BioWare's high-profile January space RPG Mass Effect 2, which sold 572,100 units during the month. Mass Effect 2's PC version didn't make the top 10 retail games for the month. The PC version is additionally available in digital download form, units which NPD Group does not track.

Below are the top 10 software titles for January, as provided by NPD Group (*includes special editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware):

Title Platform Publisher Release Date Units Rank
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. WII WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA Nov-09 656.7K 1
MASS EFFECT 2* 360 ELECTRONIC ARTS Jan-10 572.1K 2
WII FIT PLUS W/ BALANCE BOARD* WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA Oct-09 555.7K 3
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2* 360 ACTIVISION BLIZZARD Nov-09 326.7K 4
MARIO KART W/ WHEEL WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA Apr-08 310.9K 5
SPORTS RESORT W/ WII MOTION PLUS* WII NINTENDO OF AMERICA Jul-09 297.6K 6
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2* PS3 ACTIVISION BLIZZARD Nov-09 259.0K 7
ARMY OF TWO: THE 40TH DAY 360 ELECTRONIC ARTS Jan-10 246.5K 8
JUST DANCE WII UBISOFT Nov-09 191.9K 9
DARKSIDERS 360 THQ Jan-10 171.2k 10


The only category to see growth was the video game accessories category, which rose a very modest 2 percent to $217 million for the month, NPD said.


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Comments


Kevin Jones
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Life to Date sales of the top games launched last year:



01. 360 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - 6.16 million

02. WII New Super Mario Bros. Wii - 4.89 million

03. WII Wii Sports Resort - 4.84 million

04. WII Wii Fit Plus - 4.09 million

05. PS3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - 3.25 million



Total for MW2 (PS3/360, excluding PC retail and Steam sales)) : 9.41 million

David Wesley
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On October 30, I wrote about Sony's sudden surge in sales during the month of September in a post titled, "Will Sony’s PlayStation 3 continue to outsell the Wii?" Although much of this is probably obvious to Gamasutra readers, I thought the comments may be relevant to understanding January's NPD results.



____________________________________________



Will Sony’s PlayStation 3 continue to outsell the Wii?

October 30, 2009 by David Wesley



According to NPD, the PS3 outsold all other home video game consoles in the United States for the month of September.



1. PlayStation 3 491,800 units

2. Wii 462,800 units

3. Xbox 360 352,600 units



Although these results are good news for Sony, Nintendo’s profitability remains significantly higher than both Sony and Microsoft. In addition, Nintendo continues to outsell other console makers in software.



So what is behind Sony’s sudden surge in popularity, and will it continue?



Most news articles have pointed out that Sony introduced new lower-priced models in September, while dropping the price on existing models. Certainly, both of these factors played important roles. However, part of Sony (and Microsoft’s) relatively improved performance is part of an ongoing sales trend that we first identified in our book several months ago. That does not necessarily mean that Sony will continue to lead in sales over the short term. Nintendo will likely enjoy a resurgence in sales during the holiday season, despite the fact that sales will continue to remain down compared to the same period last year. Yet, over the long term, we expect Sony and Microsoft to continue to make relative improvements. The reasons for this are several:



* Higher HDTV penetration

* A shift to online gaming and distribution

* Device convergence



HDTV penetration will make consoles like the PS3 and Xbox 360 more attractive relative to the Wii, which lacks HD features, such as the ability to play high definition games, Blu-ray movies (PS3) and Netflix (Xbox 360). Moreover, the advent of Natal and Sony’s motion sensing wand could put an end to the Wii’s one competitive advantage.



Device convergence offers both benefits and challenges for Sony and Microsoft. Currently, gaming consoles can do more than other home entertainment devices, but the situation is rapidly changing as Internet, music, and streaming video become available on DVD players, DVRs, and even directly on newer model TVs.

Leon T
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David- I would bet good money that you are wrong. What you are saying is no different than what is said every year really. The Wii will fall and the HD consoles will sell better. HD motion control and HD TVs will not sell HD consoles.

Wojciech Lekki
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I agree with David. What we are seeing here is that HD platforms with high quality games designed for core gamers are increasing sales while Wii and handhelds meant mostly for occasional gamers are dropping.



Basically the hype for casual games has ended while the core gamers are more or less addicts and will never abandon the market. As someone stated they will "buy, beg or steal" to play the games. In the same time the experience offered by those platforms is becoming more accesible to wider audience and those two consoles in my opinion will continue to sell.



I think that best times for Wii are long gone and if Nintendo doesn't do something spectacular its a matter of time while Microsoft and Sony take over the console space.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Be wary of over-reliance on technological explanations. Gaming is an entertainment industry, not a technology one. PCs have been HD forever but their gaming market shrunk considerably. The most powerful console of a generation has rarely been the most successful. Please give me counterexamples, but I don't think there are many.

Leon T
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What we are seeing is the Wii and DS still leading in sales. The top ten NPD being half Wii games and the Wii is sold out. Wii Fit Plus,New Mario, Mario Kart and Wii Sport Resort are what the Wii is selling on now. The hype for casual games like Just Dance, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort is obviously not over. Unless you missed it you might want to check out the top ten again.



I would love to see HD consoles suddenly began selling higher than the Wii and DS ( that would at least make things more interesting) , but every year industry heads, analyst and fanboys say it is going to happen and every year they are wrong. Being up YOY means little if you are still being outsold. It means even less if your biggest competitor is sold out!



After breaking so many sales records the DS and Wii should have nowhere to go but down. Can anyone with any sense really think that they should be up YOY? It would be amazing if they were. The DS is already selling at an amazing pace for how long it has been out and the only thing keeping the Wii down this month is supply.

Adam Flutie
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@Adam Coate -



I agree with the "tired of paying to play their games online" part. But I don't know where you got demos from though. Even silver members get to play the demos, though it is 5-7 days later...



Also, if my X360 RROD'ed, I don't see why I would got get a PS3 though... I already built up a library and I'm not going to abandon it on the false assumption that RROD still matters in the least.





As for the sales numbers. Has anyone but Nintendo really struck it rich on the Wii? Or are all of these numbers just screaming "Look, you should be HERE!" so they go to develop on it to find their studio closing a few months after release... Talk numbers all you want, but some people actually want some sort of stability in an already highly unstable profession.

Fábio Bernardon
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@ Adam Flutie



From all the studios that close their doors, how many developed Wii titles instead of PS3/X360 ones? Even on the Gamecube era, Factor 5 managed to stay afloat. But 1 mistake with PS3 was enough to make it close its doors.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Coming back to my point on HD as I have more time now (and because it was pretty much ignored, lol):



I think the "demand" for HD is massively overstated. Normal people don't talk about HD. They talk about the content. Many people bought HDTVs because they wanted a nice new TV and it's pretty hard to get one that's not HD capable. As far as I know DVD sales are much higher than Blu-ray. The difference between DVD and Blu-ray is much smaller than the difference between DVD and VHS. You're now at the stage where many people can't tell the difference between HD and SD, and many others can tell once it is pointed out but don't care that much.



Back when resolution was a limiting factor on PCs, you were always shooting to have hardware that could handle a higher resolution. The lowest resolution considered HD is 720p: 1280×720. I was able to play games at an equivalent 4:3 resolution at least 12 years ago. However, I thought they looked better at a lower resolution with more anti-aliasing. We reached a reasonable limit of resolution usefulness. It's true that living room TVs are much bigger than the monitors I used, but you area also sitting much further away from them.



I'm not saying I hate the idea of HD. Higher resolutions are the natural progression of things. If it's cheap enough why not stick it on? As far as living room TVs in their normal usage mode, I don't think it's ever going to be worth going over 1080p.



However, when I hear the term HD, 95% of the time it is from hype and marketing, ads trying to sell HD content etc. not from average people saying "I want HD" or "HD looks pretty cool". HD will not drive anything. What drives game consumer behaviour is content. What drives game consumer behaviour is content. So important it was worth saying twice!

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Caveat:



A lot of people refer to HD in a way that extends beyond screen resolution. More as a term describing overall technical prowess as achieved by high texture resolutions, more polygons, "film-like" production values. I say to these people, stop abusing the term HD. It has a specific meaning regarding screen resolutions.



However, if you want to talk about high production values, similar arguments apply whereby many game-makers are misplacing their effort by overshooting the demand for production values and therefore neglecting more fundamental aspects.


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