Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 21, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 21, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





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


NPD Results, April 2010: A Real Downer, At 26 Percent
NPD Results, April 2010: A Real Downer, At 26 Percent
May 13, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

May 13, 2010 | By Christian Nutt
Comments
    25 comments
More: Console/PC



The NPD Group has announced its latest round of U.S. retail console numbers revealing that Xbox 360 exclusive Splinter Cell: Conviction was the bestselling game of April 2010, as overall revenues drop 26 percent year over year.

Video game segment sales overall dropped to $766.2 million compared to $1.03 billion in April 2009. NPD analyst Anita Frazier notes that this, at 26 percent, is the fourth largest year over year percentage decline ever, "after September 2000, June '09 and July '09." Year to date, the market is down 11 percent, at $4.73 billion, as compared to revenues of $5.29 billion through April 2009.

Frazier notes that the timing of Easter this year changed things: "In April '09, consumers attributed $55 million of industry sales to Easter as a purchase occasion, which would account for about 21 percent of the decline from last year since Easter purchasing happened in March this year."

Frazier notes that portable sales are markedly down, a situation that has long been noticable. The Nintendo 3DS is due later in the year and the PlayStation Portable is in major decline in the West.

In knock-on news, "declines in portable sales compared to April '09 accounted for 61 percent of the total industry decrease," writes Frazier, despite the segment contributing 25 percent of total dollar sales for the month.

Software

Though Sony's PlayStation 3 dominated the software charts in March, April was a more familiar picture: Nintendo on top, with six games in the top 10 (two for DS, and four for Wii.) Microsoft's platform had two, and so did the PlayStation 3.

The software segment generated $398.5 million in revenue, down from last April's $512.0 million, a 22 percent change. Year to date, software has generated $2.52 billion in sales, down 8 percent from last year's total of $2.73 billion through April.

Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction was the top-selling game for the month, debuting to 486,100 units. The latest Pokemon titles, HeartGold and SoulSilver were at places 2 and 4, respectively, and sold a total of 435,500 copies together.

Frazier ascribes some of the downturn to dropoff in March-released titles: "A big contributor to the decline in software sales comes from the March '10 new releases, which fell off more dramatically than did last year's March releases. In aggregate, March '09 new releases dropped off by 54 percent in April '09 sales, while this year, new releases in March '10 dropped off by 75 percent in April."

She also notes that "April '10 new releases sold more units than did last April's new releases so it wasn't the top-selling games or the new releases that were at the heart of the software decline. Those compare very favorably to last year."

Tracking the evolution of the market, Frazier says that by the NPD Group's reckoning, "casual" games (which, to them, includes Action Oriented Racing, Fitness, Multiple/Other Sports, Music/Dance Games, Party Games, and Platform/Scrolling Character genres) "comprised only 24 percent of software dollar sales in April 2010 as compared to 36 percent last April, and indication that more core content shored up better than did some of the more casual or non-traditional content."

Frazier does not draw any inferences about what caused this change, and as always, the NPD's results only track U.S. retail sales -- and do not take into account major online game sectors such as Facebook game microtransactions, MMO subscriptions, and other sectors.

Starting with this month's results, the NPD Group has declined to provide unit numbers for the top 10 retail games; instead, it is shifting to providing just the top five figures.

1 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft, 360), 486,100
2. Pokemon SoulSilver (Game Freak/Nintendo, NDS), 242,900
3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo/Nintendo, Wii), 200,300
4. Pokemon HeartGold (Game Freak/Nintendo, NDS), 192,600
5. God of War III (Sony Santa Monica/SCEA, PS3), 180,300
6. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo/Nintendo, Wii)
7. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (DICE/Electronic Arts, 360) 166,000 (Note: Microsoft-released figure)
8. Wii Fit Plus w/ Balance Board (Nintendo, Wii)
9. Just Dance (Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft, Wii)
10. Super Street Fighter IV (Capom, Dimps/Capcom, PS3)

In its NPD email, Microsoft also noted that the Xbox 360 version of Super Street Fighter IV made the "console top 10", which excludes portable titles, at 108,000 units sold.

It also reiterated figures for the Halo: Reach beta, saying that more than one million players participated in the public beta during its opening day, a number greater than the total participants in the beta of Halo 3.

Hardware

Hardware unit sales fell sharply compared to March 2010, and revenue dropped tremendously compared to April 2010, when prices were generally higher. They stood at $398.5 million, compared to April 2009's $512 million. Accessories dropped 9 percent year over year, to $118.4 million from $129.6 million.

Despite the revenue drop, however, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both made gains in unit sales. "The PS3 and the Xbox 360 both enjoyed a unit sales increase over last April while all other systems declined," says Frazier, noting that "the PS3 accounted for 84 percent of the total unit sales increase."

Sony, in its NPD email, points out that the system is the only one with "growth both year over year (42.6 percent) and year to date (37.2 percent)".

"Compared to March '10 on an average sales per week basis, all platforms declined between 37 percent and 63 percent. Inventory at retail could be playing a role in some of the systems' decreases," writes Frazier.

Despite dropping 71 percent in sales year over year, the Nintendo DS is still the bestselling piece of hardware for the month, at 440,800 units. The charts for April 2010 are as follows:

1. Nintendo DS: 440,800
2. Wii: 277,200
3. Xbox 360: 185,400
4. PlayStation 3: 180,800
5. PSP: 65,500

Frazier also notes that The NPD Group expects the DS to dethrone the PlayStation 2, which the firm has stopped publicly reporting as of April 2010, as the bestselling hardware platform ever in October or November 2010.


Related Jobs

Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Santa Monica, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Marketing Director
Trion Worlds
Trion Worlds — Redwood City, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Senior Gameplay Engineer
Trion Worlds
Trion Worlds — Redwood City, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Senior Graphics Engineer
Crystal Dynamics
Crystal Dynamics — Redwood City, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Audio Lead










Comments


Justin Nearing
profile image
I wonder how these figures compare to the numbers from causal/social media games.

Jeremy Reaban
profile image
I think the iPad which launched in April (along with the iPhone) is the major reason for the decline in portable sales.



Both basically render the PSP obsolete. I personally love the PSP, but it cannot compete with tens of thousands of games priced under $10. Especially as we are seeing more and more PSP ports to it (Prince of Persia is the latest) for 1/3 to 1/4 the cost. And even Japanese companies just skipping putting out games for it (Capcom with SFIV, for instance)



The DS still has Nintendo products. But other publishers stuff is in the same boat as the PSP - why pay $20-30 for a casual game on the DS (or $8-10 on DSIware), when you can get the same game (or a lot more to choose from) on the iPhone/iPad for $1-5?



They're smart, offering something with the 3DS that the iPhone can't really offer.

David Rodriguez
profile image
Anyone know the impact the Ipad has been having since it's launch? something like 1600 games available now, I'm wondering what effect it's been having on devs lately.

Ken Masters
profile image
This is probably the saddest NPD I've ever seen.



Also, it's really disappointing that NPD didn't release numbers for the bottom half of the top 10. I'm hoping this isn't how it's going to be from now on.



From Kotaku (who got the numbers from Nintendo):

06. Wii Sports Resort (Wii) - 179,000

07. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360) - 166,000

08. Wii Fit Plus (Wii) - ???

09. Just Dance (Wii) - 144,000

10. Super Street Fighter IV (PS3) - 143,000

Roberto Alfonso
profile image
Jeremy, the PSP was obsolete since years ago. Since it was released it has placed less than 10 (probably less than 5) games in the top 10 NPD, years before Apple launched the iPhone. People used to buy it for their media capabilities, and with the iPhone it became less relevant (I give you that one). So, even without the iPhone the PSP would have ended this way.



It is harder to measure the impact with the Nintendo DS, since Nintendo platforms have always been pushed with Nintendo software (which far outshines anything in the same platform and usually outside them).

Steve Peterson
profile image
I wonder if some of the drop in DS sales was due to Nintendo's announcement that in the near future a shiny new DS (the 3DS) would be coming out, thus rendering the current models obsolete. Classic Osborne Effect... way to go, Nintendo. Somebody should be losing a pinky at HQ over this screwup.

John Gordon
profile image
The drop in handheld sales is due to the fact that the DSi was released in April 2009 and it sold like crazy soon afterward. Handheld sales aren't doing poorly. It's just that this month is being compared to a significant release month last year.

Kevin Jones
profile image
@ emy Reaban



" I think the iPad which launched in April (along with the iPhone) is the major reason for the decline in portable sales. "



Don't forget the Andriod smartphones. With over 65,000 Androids being sold every single day, and over 50,000 apps already available for the Andriods (and increasing fast), a lot of portable gaming is going to migrate to Andriods as well as iPhones/iPads. For the first quarter of this year, Andriod smartphone sales already outpaced that of the iPhones in the US. The iPhone itself sold a pretty impressive 8.75 million units in the first quarter. So now, both the Android smart phones and the iPhones are far outpacing Nintendo DS sales.



"65,000 Android phones a day

At least 65,000 mobile phones powered by Google's Android operating system are being shipped every day, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said Thursday."

http://www.watoday.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/65000-android-phon
es-a-day-20100514-v2qs.html

David Marcum
profile image
@ Kevin



Shipped is not the same thing as sold.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
profile image
Meanwhile, a *2D platformer* quietly continues to be the best or second-best selling game of the year so far and it wasn't even released this year. (I've not calculated this, it's just from a quick look at NPD tables). Just keep pretending it doesn't exist, though!

Kevin Jones
profile image
@ David Marcum

"Shipped is not the same thing as sold"



Very close correlation between shipped and sold, especially in these hard times, when retailers don't want to get stuck with excess inventory. Plus the new Android smart phones continue to be sold-out the moment supplies get in. They can barely keep up with demand, so for such phones, shipped equals sold.

The Android HTC Incredible for example, still comes up with "Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available" on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/wireless/301187/ref=sv_cps_2

Kevin Jones
profile image
@ Prash Nelson-Smythe



Well by the end of this year, the best selling game is going to be between Halo Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops, with Call of Duty pobably taking the top seller prize because its multiplatform. Just one month's sales of Halo Reach in September alone, will blow Year to Date sales of NSMN(Wii) out of the water.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
profile image
Kevin,



Other games may or may not outsell NSMBW within 2010 but that's completely irrelevant to my point. Allow me to elaborate. Those games are 3D first person shooters. It is well established that they have been incredibly popular for years and the market is pretty much saturated with them. But a 2D platformer selling so very well *and* beating the pants off its 3D franchise counterpart (proving it is not just franchise power)? It's unheard of. It's a massive deal. It's front page news... It's largely ignored. Why? It doesn't fit into the gamer's view of the gaming industry. So it's easier to ignore it or call it a fluke than explain it. Why is no one out there even attempting to repeat the success with another mass-market 2D platformer there is a clear audience for? The development costs would be so low the big publishers might as well give it a try!



Oh and I agree about the android phones. By some measures they are outselling iPhones in the US. Those measures may not be completely accurate but no one can deny they are selling a lot. If iPhones are worth mentioning because they play games and they have a large user base, then so are Android phones. The only question with Androids is how much of the user base is willing to pay for games. Obviously, this needs to be considered with the iPhone too. Many people who buy both have zero interest in games.

Ken Masters
profile image
Hopefully we'll still get the Top 20 via Gamasutra.

Mark Harris
profile image
Prash, I expect we'll probably continue to see 2D platformers on the Wii... but I really doubt any of them will compete with the Mario brand. The long tail for NSMB is exceptional, but not unexpected. I remember plenty of people predicting this exact thing before the game launched. I think that's probably why it isn't in the headlines every month.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
@Ken,



I expect that to come on Monday. That is usually when Gamasutra does their in-depth coverage of the NPD data.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
profile image
Mark,



It's easy to say now that it was expected, but if it was such easy money then why did nobody do it? Nintendo could've made the game almost as it is a whole decade earlier. Instead they took an exclusively 3D route with diminishing sales. The business decision makers did not know and many still don't apparently.



You're right that they won't compete with the Mario brand because they won't even attempt to make a game that is ALL of a) high quality, b) mass market, c) widely advertised, unless its an FPS.



Because of the above, I accept that one of the reasons that Mario Bros Wii is selling so well is because it has zero competition. My question is why doesn't it have any competition? It's no excuse to just say "oh but mario is too big in platforming, nothing can beat it". Big publishers go to great lengths and throw a lot of money at building new franchises for expensive to produce FPS games. New franchises are born all the time and old ones die. Will no one build a new 2D platforming franchise?

John Gordon
profile image
"The long tail for NSMB is exceptional, but not unexpected. I remember plenty of people predicting this exact thing before the game launched. I think that's probably why it isn't in the headlines every month."



@Mark

I'm not convinced that the sales of NSMB Wii are naturally intuitive. If it was then why aren't we seeing Sega give the same treatment to the next 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game? If Sega was sure that a 2D Sonic would be a big seller, then we'd see a retail holiday release will a huge marketing effort. Instead what we are seeing is downloadable episodic releases for Sonic.



Sega clearly does not believe there is big money in a 2D platformer. If you look how scarce these have been for 10+ years now you can see that no company really thinks there is big money in a 2D platformer. Nintendo really took a big risk by going against conventional wisdom, and it happened to pay off for them in huge dividends.

Oliver Snyders
profile image
Software sales:



"... $398.5 million in revenue, down from last April's $512.0 million..."



Hardware sales:



"... $398.5 million, compared to April 2009's $512 million."



?

Jonathan Gilmore
profile image
At least on the console side doesn't it pretty much come down to the ebbing popularity of the Wii? Especially since the PS3, which is still priced higher than the Wii ever was, continues to perform better year on year than it ever has. The way things are going the spike that the Wii is going to have November/December is going to disappoint a lot of people compared to what it did last year.

Russell Carroll
profile image
@ Jonathan - since everyone expects the Wii to keep performing poorly this year compared to the other consoles, wouldn't disappointing people mean that it performed well? Which is to say, there are plenty of posts where people are clearly suggesting they wish it was selling horribly, so the only way to disappoint the lot of those people is for it to not sell horribly, I think.



The hardware drop this month is due almost entirely to the DSi being released in April last year, which makes for a tough comparison to year ago. Selling 600K less units of a single piece of hardware would make it a hard revenue comparison for any month.



I wonder if the long-tail for NSMBWii will be affected by Galaxy 2.

I wonder why more people aren't trying multiplayer 2D platformers. Sonic 4 would interest me if I could play with my family; I think the multiplayer is a part of the NSMB Wii charm.

Mark Harris
profile image
@Prash and John



I'm willing to accept that there was some risk involved on Nintendo's part in the design of NMSB. However, when various rehashes of Mario Kart 64 (DS, Wii) have been selling consistently (more intermittently now) in the NPD top 10 or 20 for years I don't think it's that big of a leap. Nostalgia is a big part of the Mario brand, it was a bold move to release a throwback 2D platformer, but not all that surprising.



There was plenty of discussion on these boards before the NMSB Wii release about whether it would outsell MW2 lifetime, so obviously the long tail was expected by this community.



Regardless, good idea by N and well executed.

Kevin Butler
profile image
" Other games may or may not outsell NSMBW within 2010 but that's completely irrelevant to my point. Allow me to elaborate. Those games are 3D first person shooters. It is well established that they have been incredibly popular for years and the market is pretty much saturated with them. But a 2D platformer selling so very well *and* beating the pants off its 3D franchise counterpart (proving it is not just franchise power)? It's unheard of. It's a massive deal. It's front page news... It's largely ignored. Why? It doesn't fit into the gamer's view of the gaming industry. So it's easier to ignore it or call it a fluke than explain it. Why is no one out there even attempting to repeat the success with another mass-market 2D platformer there is a clear audience for? The development costs would be so low the big publishers might as well give it a try!"



" Because of the above, I accept that one of the reasons that Mario Bros Wii is selling so well is because it has zero competition. My question is why doesn't it have any competition? It's no excuse to just say "oh but mario is too big in platforming, nothing can beat it". Big publishers go to great lengths and throw a lot of money at building new franchises for expensive to produce FPS games. New franchises are born all the time and old ones die. Will no one build a new 2D platforming franchise? "



Thanks Prash.



Sony has completely forgotten the fundamental principles of video games while Nintendo has stood on it despite the beating it got from the Playstation brand... and it paid off. Nintendo was smart not to fight on Sony or Microsoft's level (Gamecube) because they know they don't stand a chance. Instead, they remained to the customers Sony has clearly abandoned and tried to look for other customers. There was no competition at all. If Sony made games for both the young and older gamers at the same time, like on the Ps1 and PS2, things could have been rosier for Sony. Their arrogance got the better of them.





"At least on the console side doesn't it pretty much come down to the ebbing popularity of the Wii? Especially since the PS3, which is still priced higher than the Wii ever was, continues to perform better year on year than it ever has. The way things are going the spike that the Wii is going to have November/December is going to disappoint a lot of people compared to what it did last year. "



This doesn't hold water. Nintendo's or Microsoft's failure doesn't necessarily means Sony's success. You get what I am saying? Sony has failed on its own terms, on its own.... and that is no excuse. No one is to blame but Sony itself.



I am going to report this as a BIG issue.



Thanks everybody for your analysis.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
profile image
@Mark Harris:



It's true that we had higher expectations for Mario Bros Wii because of the DS version and the fact that we knew Nintendo had a marketing push for a big christmas release etc. And to be quite honest, most of us now realise that Nintendo know what they're doing, so predicting their big releases will sell takes little analysis!



But no one had any idea that they would even announce such a game for a home console. If you take as a whole single event that "Nintendo announced and released a 10+ million selling 2D platformer for a home console in 2009" it is quite mind-blowing from a 2008 mindset. Even if you don't accept it is mind-blowing, my original complaint that it is underreported compared to other game phenomenons still stands. NSMBW received a fraction of the coverage commenting on its sales compared to Modern Warfare 2, while only selling a bit less.

Thomas Lo
profile image
@Kevin Butler -



Lets be fair here. Nintendo didn't do anything much different from what it did before. It had a lot of gimmicky games and peripherals on all its consoles that were well-executed and occassionally breakout hits. The wiimote was after all originally a gamecube addon.



Sony took the steps it did to win the Hi-Def war. If Toshiba and especially Microsoft not taken steps to establish HD-DVD very early, Sony might have released a non-Blu-Ray Ps3 for MUCH less than it did and we wouldn't be talking now about how "brilliant" nintendo was with the wii.



And truth be told the Wii has been a huge disappointment for all third party-developers. A huge chunk of their market simply do not buy games and I don't buy the typical Nintendo fanboy bs that 3rd parties don't create good games. Almost every 3rd party "hit" on the wii tends to undersell.



Sony won the Blu-Ray war and got the PS3 to a much more mass-market friendly price of $299. If they can get that price down to $199 and keep the PS3 alive and kicking with triple-A first parties for another 5 years, then it would go a long way towards rebuilding their political capital with developers.



As someone in the business right now, I see the entire 3rd party wii market collapsing (with the first-party market collpasing in a year) and the 360 market shrinking. Something has to pick up the slack.



As for the Portable market, the DS is going to face some stiff competition from future iterations from the ipod touch and iphone as those platforms get cheaper and cheaper.



And the post about the Ipad? LAWL. The cost of entry for the ipad is 550 for a seriously gimped version. I love my ipad but its not competition for portable gaming devices at the moment.



The PSP's collapse is due to mass piracy and Sony not taking advantage of all the platform's opportunities. The focus on UMD for too long gave up their chance to create their own version of itunes (or partner up with Apple) to deliver content to PSP owners and keep them playing. The DS's collapse is due to it simply being older. And now it faces stiffer competition from apple who has a much more mainstream product in term of audience.







Within 5 years though, the portable world is definitely going to be dominated by apple platforms for better or worse.


none
 
Comment: