Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 1, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 1, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Exclusive: Platform-Specific Q1 U.S. Sales Reveal Notable Trends
Exclusive: Platform-Specific Q1 U.S. Sales Reveal Notable Trends Exclusive
May 11, 2010 | By Matt Matthews

May 11, 2010 | By Matt Matthews
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

[Using exclusive NPD data, Gamasutra's Matt Matthews looks at the top selling U.S. retail games for each platform during the first quarter of 2010, from Modern Warfare 2's continued sales through Just Dance's surprising Wii strength.]

By the end of this week the NPD Group will have released its latest estimates of retail videogame sales in the United States for April 2010.

Let us take stock of the first quarter of the year before that first measure of the second quarter arrives. Today -- utilizing data exclusively provided to Gamasutra by NPD -- the topic is software, including estimated units, dollars, and top software lists for the three main consoles.

First-Party Domination

Nintendo continues to dominate software on its Wii platform with three of its 2009 titles topping the chart. New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii launched in November 2009 and sold over 4.2 million units by the end of December, making it the third best-selling title for that year.

Sales so far in 2010 have added approximately 1.7 million more units bringing its lifetime total to just shy of 6 million units as of the end of March.

With April sales, New Super Mario Bros. has no doubt already surpassed the 6 million mark on the Wii. We believe the Nintendo DS version of New Super Mario Bros. now has sales of around 7 million units, based on available data.

As the chart above shows, Nintendo's update to its fitness package, Wii Fit Plus, is the second best-selling title on the Wii so far in 2010 with sales of around 1.1 million units. Total sales now reach nearly 4.7 million since it launched in October 2009.

(A quick note about the rankings and software sales figures in this article. Except where noted otherwise, the charts provided here combine sales figures for different versions of the same title on the same platform. So, for example, the Wii Fit Plus listing includes both the standalone game and software packaged with the Wii balance board. Moreover, the rankings were confirmed by the NPD Group but the sales figures are estimates produced by us from available data.)

With unit sales over 800,000 units Wii Sports Resort is the number three title on the Wii so far this year. Combined with its total in 2009, after its July launch, Wii Sports Resort has life-to-date sales of well over 5 million units.

Sneaking in at the number four position is Ubisoft's hit, Just Dance, the only third-party to make this list. Just in 2010 we estimate that it has sold around 650,000 units, and according to Broadpoint AmTech analyst Ben Schachter, it has now reached 1 million units since its November 2009 launch in the U.S.

Mario Kart for the Wii is final title in the top 5 for 2010, and it is one of Nintendo's greenest evergreen titles.

Combat Games Dominate Xbox 360 and PS3

Three cross-platform games appear on the top-selling software lists for both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.

The number two game on the Xbox 360 so far in 2010 is just such a title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, published by Activision Blizzard. On that platform we estimate it has already garnered sales of 840,000 units, and has sold an additional 630,000 units on the PlayStation 3, where it is the third best-selling title in 2010.

The other cross-platform games are Battlefield: Bad Company 2 from Electronic Arts and Final Fantasy XIII from Square-Enix. On the Xbox 360 Bad Company 2 has sold through an estimated 830,000 units while Final Fantasy XIII has shifted only 500,000.

In contrast, the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIII outsold Bad Company 2 on that platform with estimated unit sales of 830,000 and 450,000, respectively.

The charts for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are shown below.

Each platform's chart is headed by a title exclusive to that system. In particular, the top seller on the Xbox 360 was Mass Effect 2, which has nearly reached sales of 900,000 units since its launch in January. The top title on the PS3 so far in 2010 is Sony's own God of War III, and it is the only million-seller on any non-Nintendo platform this year.

BioShock 2 appears at the number four spot on the Xbox 360 chart with estimated sales of 600,000 units. While it is not exclusive to that system, the original game was a console exclusive on the Xbox 360 for a year, a fact that probably has helped propel sales of the sequel on that platform.

Rounding out the PS3 list is MAG, another Sony exclusive, and yet another shooter. We note that one can get a sense of the strong contrast between the Wii and the HD consoles using these lists. Whereas Nintendo's list could be characterized as a platformer, a fitness package, a minigame collection, a music game, and a driving games the Xbox 360 and PS3 lists consist of RPGs, third-person action games, and shooters.

Wii and DS Dominate Top 10

While we have not provided lists for the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, or Sony PlayStation 2 we should note that Nintendo's handheld does make an appearance in the all-format top-selling software list for the first quarter of 2010.

That list, shown below, reveals that the two versions of Nintendo's latest Pokemon game were the fourth and tenth best-selling titles for the year so far, with all of their sales coming in just the month of March.

Five titles for Nintendo platforms appear on this list, three for the Wii and two for the DS, all published by Nintendo itself. Three titles on the list are for the Xbox 360 while two are for the PlayStation 3.

In its briefing to investors last week Nintendo published some additional data from the NPD Group on the top-selling software in the United States during the first quarter of 2010. The list provided by Nintendo differs from the one here in that it shows the top 30 titles but does not combine versions of the same game on the same platform. A side effect of this representation of the data is that the listings show a slightly different ordering.

The listing published by Nintendo based on NPD Group data is shown below.

This extended list gives a clearer view of the shift in Sony's software fortunes on the PlayStation 3. So far this year, nine titles for the PS3 have made it into the top 30 all-formats list, and five of those were first-party titles. By comparison, only seven Xbox 360 titles placed on this listing. The remaining titles were of course for Nintendo's platforms eight for the Wii and six for the Nintendo DS.

Overall Industry Sales Figures

Finally, we take stock of the key totals for the industry so far in 2010. While software revenue is down by 5 percent so far in 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, that one figure alone doesn't explain precisely how the market has changed.

In particular, we note that average software prices are actually up a modest 1 percent, in spite of significant losses in the music game category. However, total unit sales are down 6 percent and as a result the entire software category is down from $2.2 billion in the first three months of 2009 to $2.1 billion in 2010.

The table below shows the actual figures for 2009 and 2010, for your reference.

It is also instructive to look at the marketshare claimed by each platform so far in 2010 compared to the same time in 2009. The chart below shows our estimates for the dollar share of each major platform during the first three months of 2009.

From the platform stakeholder level, we estimate that Sony's platforms claimed just over 27 percent of the market in the first quarter of 2009 while Nintendo's platforms took nearly 47 percent. The remaining 26 percent of all software dollars in the first quarter of 2009 were spent on Microsoft's lone platform, the Xbox 360.

(Note that these figures are first-party and third-party software combined. So, for example, the PS3 figures includes dollars for all software sold for the PS3 in the first quarters of 2009 and then for 2010, regardless of publisher.)

In the first quarter of 2010, fortunes have shifted. Sony's older platforms, the PS2 and the PSP, have declined to only 2 percent and 2.6 percent of the market, respectively, while the PS3 has increased to an estimated 26 percent, giving Sony's platforms just over 30 percent of the total software market.

The chart below shows these figures, as well as those for software for Nintendo's platforms and software for the Xbox 360.

The Wii's share of software dollars decreased significantly while the Nintendo DS increased its share. The net result was that software for Nintendo's platforms dropped about 3 points, down to 43 percent of all software dollars at the beginning of 2010.

The share of software dollars spent on Xbox 360 titles in the first quarter of 2010 declined slightly from the same period in 2009.

[Thanks to the NPD Group, and in particular Anita Frazier and David Riley, for assistance with the figures in this article. Also, thank you to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter for his comments and monthly updates on industry sales.]

Related Jobs

Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States

Senior AI Engineer
Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States

Lead Tools Engineer - Infinity Ward
AtomJack — Seattle, Washington, United States

Level Designer
Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games — Burbank , California, United States

Senior Engine Programmer


Merc Hoffner
profile image
Original Post:


Merc Hoffner

11 May 2010 at 6:38 am PST | edit

Let's get this straight. When the title says "Analysis: Mass Effect 2, God Of War III Top Q1 Software Sales", what it really means is 'Analysis: Nintendo Tops Q1 Software Sales'?

Just trying to make sure I understand this data right so that I can correctly translate game sales article titles when making well informed quick-fire stock purchases.


Next time you could just directly translate the title into regular English like I suggested. Still, this works too.

eyal erez
profile image
Once again Nintendo takes the lead with much lower budget games, yet mass market appeal.

Can't wait for the new rounds of consoles.


John Gordon
profile image
Very interesting analysis. Thanks Matt!

"Whereas Nintendo's list could be characterized as a platformer, a fitness package, a minigame collection, a music game, and a driving games the Xbox 360 and PS3 lists consist of RPGs, third-person action games, and shooters."

This is the thing that I find most interesting. Look at the amount of diversity in genres each platform has. First look at the top five.

XBox360 - 2 genres - RPG, FPS

PS3 - 3 genres - RPG, FPS, Beat 'em up

Wii - 5 genres - Platformer, Fitness, Sports, Dance, Racing

Now look at the top 30

XBox360 - 7 titles, 3 genres - RPG, FPS, Beat 'em up

PS3 - 9 titles, 5 genres - RPG, FPS, Beat 'em up, Sports, Heavy Rain

Wii - 8 titles, 6 genres - Platformer, Fitness, Sports, Dance, Racing, Wii Play

Overall the XBox360 has the least diversity, and not coincidentally all of its titles are third party titles. The Wii has the most diversity, and it has mostly first party titles. The PS3 is somewhere in between. It seems like third party developers are not as willing to make a diversity of games compared to first party developers.

This is probably a symptom of rising development costs. Third party developers can't afford to take risks on new types of games, so unfortunately games are becoming more and more homogenous. The only real exception to this on the list is Just Dance, which I suspect had a much lower development cost compared to the other third party titles on the list.

Merc Hoffner
profile image
Strange isn't it. It's actually counter to what you'd expect from a free market: Competition should breed diversity while monopolisation breeds uniformity. Has something gone wrong here? What would this do for a one-console 'dream'? Do we/Why do we put so much onus on the 1st parties to show the way in experimental development. I suppose money you're willing to risk is an issue, but when, like EA, you're sitting on billions but losing hundreds of millions a quarter, you may as well try turning left if you've been going right. Hence EA Sports Active I suppose.

E Zachary Knight
profile image

I love that Heavy Rain and Wii Play are their own genres. But you do make an excellent point. the shear glut of FPS games on the 360 and PS3 makes me wonder just how much market saturation those consoles can handle before the genre begins to slide.

I do like to have a variety of genres, but it is a shame that more traditional genres aren't finding success on the Wii. Specifically RPGs as that is my favorite genre.

Ken Masters
profile image
Glad to see the title was changed since I first took a look at this story. It was very inconsistent with actual the data being presented.

@ Ephraim:

It would help if there were more RPGs on the Wii. I think Last Story and Xenoblade have a lot of potential to see great sales though.

Tyler Peters
profile image
Man, Dante's and BioShock2 had pretty poor showings. You've got to wonder if it's not due in part to some pretty poor marketing strategies. The Dante Super Bowl spot seemed like a huge blunder, and BioShock - I can't even remember seeing any marketing after the initial teaser on the beach (which was pretty cool).

John Gordon
profile image

Heh, I wasn't sure what genres you'd put Wii Play and Heavy Rain in.

You make a good point about genres. The only genre that is ranked both on the Wii and one of the HD consoles was sports. Other than that you get two very different types of games. On HD consoles you get plenty of Shooters, RPGs, and Beat 'em up type games. On the Wii you get everything else, but very few of the former type of genres.

People make a big deal about being in HD or having motion controls, but if you look at the software you see that Wii customers are buying fundamentally different types of games compared to customers of the other two consoles. My personal viewpoint is that software makes a bigger difference than hardware. Perhaps most Wii customers aren't particularly interested in Shooters, RPGs, and Beat 'em ups?

Ian Uniacke
profile image
@John: Exactly. And that's why I have a 360 "and" a wii because I like shooters and brawlers as well as sports and platformers. Of course if you're tastes aren't as broad as my own I can see why many people have a preference for HD games and many people have a preference for Wii games.

Marco Devarez
profile image

Thus enter Natal and Move (i know i know why does it always circle back to this), you get your HD and your motion.

i get thats not the factor you are talking about, but i think the Wii philosophy was born from it being different. Since we haven't seen much on Natal we dont know how thast going to shape up, but we have seen the future of Move, and im actually intrigued by the move enabled Eye Pet (maybe it will fail on price but i sure want one for my 4 yr old daughter).

Guy IL
profile image

Claiming for diversity in genres is pointless when everyone can make up their own genres. For example: it's hypocritical to claim that Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII are of the same genre, as one is a futuristic western action-rpg game while the other is a traditional fantasy JRPG. The distance in play style between these two games is about as big as the distance between God of War 3 and Final Fantasy XIII.

One can claim for example that Bioshock 2 is an FPS-Adventure hybrid game and can be distanced from the MW2-BC2-MAG trio of modern shooters.

And it's even easier to do so when looking the Wii top 5: The games in the top 5 list can be viewed as 2 Mario games and 3 exercise games. Or perhaps 3 bundled games, a Mario game and a rhythm game.