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Nintendo Titles Again Reign Over NPD Top 20 In July
Nintendo Titles Again Reign Over NPD Top 20 In July
August 13, 2010 | By Kris Graft

August 13, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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    22 comments
More: Console/PC



For another month, Nintendo had the largest number of games in NPD Group's monthly top 20 best-sellers list of console video game sales in the U.S.

The Mario house led all other publishers with eight published titles in the top 20 for July, NPD revealed to Gamasutra, including Super Mario Galaxy 2, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros., Wii Fit Plus, Mario Kart w/ Wheel, Pokemon SoulSilver and Mario Kart DS.

There were 13 games in total on the list that are either on Nintendo's Wii (seven games) or DS (six games), when combining both first- and third-party titles. Xbox 360 had four games on the list and PlayStation 3 had three games.

Activision Blizzard had the second-highest number of titles in the top 20 with three titles: the Xbox 360 and PS3 version of the eight-month-old Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Wipeout: The Game, a $30 budget Wii title based on the obstacle course reality game show on ABC.

(The company also had the highest-selling retail game of any kind, Blizzard's RTS StarCraft II, which sold 721,000 units at PC retail, but is not included in NPD's Top 20 charts, which are console-specific.)

The number of games a publisher has in the top 20 doesn't tell the whole story. Electronic Arts only had two games on the list, but they were both the top-selling games for the month.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of NCAA Football 11, which sold 368,000 units and 298,800 units, respectively. NPD recently started only officially offering media the sales figures for the top five games instead of the top 10.

Take-Two also had two games in the top 20, with the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of May's Red Dead Redemption. According to NPD data, the title has sold over 2.7 million units in the U.S. through the end of July.

Other publishers making the top 20 for July were Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Disney Interactive Studios, Microsoft and Ubisoft. News of the top 20 games for July came after Thursday's monthly NPD report, which saw U.S. video game console software sales fall 8 percent to $403.3 million.

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Comments


Jonathan Jennings
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if only i could learn the magic behind mario 5 different mario titles on the top 20 games sold , that's incredible to say the least.

Maurício Gomes
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Interesting note: If you sum all the sales of all those titles in that list, Starcraft II outsold them in 3 days.



PC is dead?

Jonathan Escobedo
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I can understand Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Dragon Quest IX being on there since they came out pretty recently, but why is Mario Kart Wii still on there? Heck why is New Super Mario Bros on the DS and Mario Kart DS stilll selling? It doesn't make sense to me that they're still selling. Still, can't deny that's pretty amazing.

Don Sanders
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Didn't Pachter say that Nintendo software sales are falling dramatically?

Joseph Garrahan
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If you buy the nintendo, you gotta buy the mario....that's how it goes.

Chris Melby
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Hey Joseph, do you have something against fun? ;)

DanielThomas MacInnes
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@Johnathan: Why is Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros still selling like crazy? I'll give ya two quick reasons. Reason #1: These games kick ass. They're fantastic games that retain the classic arcade and NES feel that we love so much. Those kind of videogames have been lost in the last decade, as Cinematic Games took over on Playstation and Xbox. 2D Mario fans have felt especially left out, and as you can see, there is a huge demand for great 2D games.



Reason #2: Disruptive Innovation. The Nintendo Wii strategy is to avoid direct competition with Sony and Microsoft, who sit at the "high end" of the market with very expensive HD consoles. Instead, they will pursue the "low end" where new customers await, bring them into gaming, and topple the old order completely.



Games have followed a path of "sustaining innovation" since the 16-bit era. These sustaining innovations include: greater graphics and more horsepower; more power each generation; more features like DVD and Blu-Ray; a new console cycle every 4-5 years. The path of "disruptive innovation" challenges with a new set of values. This would include: less emphasis on graphics power for its own sake; innovative motion controls; games aimed at women, parents and grandparents; emphasis on the social experience; games that enhance life instead of taking it over.



Here's a perfect example: hip-hop. Remember when hip-hop began as an underground thing, and slowly built itself up when slickly produced pop and rock was the mainstream? It's just like that.



The plan for disruption is simple: begin at the low end and slowly move upstream. For Nintendo DS, this means games like: Brain Age, Nintendogs, Clubhouse Games, the Wii Series (Sports, Play, Fit, Party). These are the "Expanded Audience" games. These games get dismissed by the incumbents because it doesn't suit them. They're passed off as "casual games" for "crummy customers." Just look at all the ways "casual gamers" get slagged by hardcore gamers, the gaming press like IGN and Gamespot, and the game industry itself.



This, btw, is why all the third-party party and casual games on the Wii failed. Developers thought they were making crummy products for crummy customers, and that games like Wii Sports and Wii Play were cheap throwaways with no effort or skill to make. Who wants that when there's Halo?



So Nintendo quietly makes their low end games, the entry-level games. Then they move upstream, and take all these new gamers with them. These are the "bridge" games. And what would be the bridge games for the DS and Wii? Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros.



And that, my friend, is why we see these games on the charts.

Felipe Pacheco
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Nintendo is doing well! It's pretty unbelievable

Amir Sharar
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It's hard to make a case for "Disruptive Innovation" when half the Nintendo titles are traditional gaming titles. Wii Fit and Just Dance are the ones that best exemplify "Disruptive Innovation". Whereas Pokemon, Mario Kart, and even Galaxy, largely use control schemes that existed prior to the Wii.



It looks like Nintendo is doing a good job of catering to all sorts of gamers. It's best to leave any analysis at that. Keep in mind that many hardcore gamers enjoy games like Pokemon, Mario Kart, and the main Mario feature titles.

John Giordano
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@Amir



They were specifically talking about New Super Mario Bros and Mario Kart. Let's not forget Wii Sports, which returns to the roots of the old NES sports games, and Wii Fit which goes back to the Power Pad and it's fitness games.



Each of these titles returns to the roots of what originally made the NES and SNES popular. For 20 years, with each successive console release, Nintendo (and modern gaming in general) had been overshooting their own customers.



These games are successful because they are returning to those mainstream values that everyone loved, but then expanding those values to reach new customers. This is "disruption".

Amir Sharar
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John Giordano, I don't think you completely understand what the term means. Nintendo, with games like NSMB and MK, are targeted towards existing gaming audiences, and not towards the expanded market, like Wii Fit and Just Dance. What made the Wii a disruptive technology was the fact that it reached out to this new market, and the competition couldn't (and never have).



I'm know that NSMB and MK (talking about Wii versions and not DS versions) did also appeal and sell to the expanded market, but that wasn't what those games were meant to do. They in and of themselves were not meant to be disruptive technologies. Whereas the Wii Fit Board (note, the board itself is new technology, we're not necessarily talking about a Wiimote controlled game) was a disruptive technology that opened up the Wii to an even larger audience.



I hope you see the distinction. There is a lot of confusion in regards to this phenomenon and especially in regards to the Wii success.



What also has to be kept in mind that marketing is a large part of Nintendo's success, even with titles like NSMB and MK. Nintendo has created very strong brands (through creating great software) and are able to add the "Wii brand" element to them to take the marketing of any new product to a whole other level. If you are confused by what I mean about marketing, take a look at say, the iPhone 3GS when compared to a technically superior HTC Android phone. Brand power goes a long way.



I only bring this up to remind you that we must have a holistic approach when analyzing the success of these titles, and to not fixate ourselves on some buzzwords and a single business concept we may have read about on the Internet. Seeking new markets or catering to existing ones are one thing, but marketing, advertising (note the distinction), perception of value, and timing are also critical elements to a product's success.

John Giordano
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@Amir

I've read the Innovator's Dilemma. Have you read it? Disruption in not just about market expansion (that's more Blue Ocean Strategy), but it's about realizing when an incumbent has overshot the needs of the mainstream market and taking that opportunity to disrupt it.



I'll agree, we shouldn't go around throwing disruption at everything (especially game software). Most people haven't even read disruptive literature and think they know everything about it based on a few youtube videos. But we can see, at least, that those basic laws of not overshooting the market are at work within these so-called "evergreen" titles.



Speaking of evergreen titles, how can a game that sells for 3 or 4 years after it's release, be successful because of marketing? And, yes, you say the "brand" is important, but if the brand of "Wii" works so well, how come Wii Music was not an evergreen title? Or if Mario is such a big brand, why did Super Mario Galaxy sell half as much as New Super Mario Bros.



Marketing only takes you so far and then you need to have a quality product. All these non-evergreen titles are the ones that sell because of marketing.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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Here are two excellent essays that examine Nintendo's disruption and Blue Ocean strategies in depth. I've found these very insightful, and I'm curious to hear what you think. Excellent discussion, everybody - good jorb!



"Finding Nintendo's Shield" - http://malstrom.50webs.com/shield.htm



"Finding Nintendo's Sword" - http://malstrom.50webs.com/sword.htm



"Disruptive Values Test" - http://malstrom.50webs.com/test.htm

Joseph Garrahan
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@daniel

Those articles are really interesting...somebody spent A LOT of time writing that. I especially love the quotes on the homepage...



And people STILL keep saying the same things about nintendo. Funny.

John Gordon
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@Amir



NSMB Wii and Mario Kart on the Wii are both disruptive titles. What Nintendo is doing with the Wii is known as a "New Market Disruption". That means that are starting out by making games for a new market like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. But the ultimate goal of a disruption is to take over an established market.



Over time Wii products will get more sophisticated and complex. This does two things. It gets new market customers to buy more games, and it gets the competitors' customers to jump ship and come over to the Wii. This is exactly what games like Mario Kart and NSMB Wii are designed to do. Likewise Nintendo will be releasing a couple more 2D platformers this fall in order to repeat the success they've gotten with 2D Mario.



When the disruption is complete Nintendo will have taken away the majority of the customers from their competitors. Right now most HD games are either shooters or RPG's. When the Wii is getting huge sales from these types of games then the disruption will be complete. Right now Nintendo is working on an RPG called The Last Story, and several third parties have released shooters on the Wii. They are trying to steal away the core HD customers by making these games, but so far none of these titles have had huge "evergreen" success. The game still has to be an exceptionally good game to be "evergreen". Not even Nintendo can make these types of games on every try. However, once the Wii gets a huge success with either a shooter or RPG then the disruption is basically over. Most of the HD customers will have drifted over to Nintendo at that point, and they'll have taken away most of the market from the HD consoles.

Adam Bishop
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I'd never heard of Activisions "Wipeout: The Game" until I saw this list, but I'm pretty surprised that they haven't run into any trouble with Psygnosis/Sony, since the title is so similar to the PS1 game Wipeout and it's ongoing sequels. I mean, the Playstation game's web site is even "http://www.wipeout-game.com/".

DanielThomas MacInnes
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@Jerry: Indeed. But we must realize that Pachter provides this "analysis" because that is what his clients have paid him to do. He has relentlessly pushed the notion of a Wii HD since 2007, despite all evidence to the contrary and despite the fact that Nintendo's strategy is one of Disruption and Blue Ocean. Why does he make such claims? Either the man is grossly incompetent, or his company's clients are paying him to advance a specific agenda. In any event, his predictions have been wrong so many times, for so many years, that it's obvious this is not a reliable source. We should do well to avoid Pachter in the future, and find more reliable analysts in our reporting.



Basically, what "analysts" like Pachter are saying when they demand that Nintendo release a Wii HD (or a Wii 1.5, which is the newest one I've read) is this: Nintendo must abandon disruption, and return to the fold, and compete with Microsoft and Sony in the Red Ocean. Clearly, this is not going to happen. Nintendo did just that with the N64 and Gamecube, and look where it got them.



No, Nintendo has to disrupt the video game market, because this core market has been stagnant for a decade, and is now in decline. In a country like Japan, where the population is falling, this decline is even more evident. The game industry cannot appeal solely to 30-something males. There must be new customers if video games are going to survive. And let us not forget the global economy, which continues to be very sluggish, and will remain depressed for some time.



Nintendo has to disrupt the video game industry because the old path is no longer sustainable. We cannot manufacture more and more powerful hardware every five years, with game budgets exploding by tens of millions of dollars, aimed at an aging fanbase, while ignoring everyone else. This paradigm must be changed; the values themselves must be changed. Nintendo has been talking about this for years, before the Wii and the DS.



Look to the smartphones. Look at Apple and Google. The disruption is here and it's coming, one way or another. If Nintendo didn't disrupt the market, then Apple and Google will. This is a rough business, folks. Either you adapt and evolve to changing environments, or you go extinct. And the history of video games is littered with tombstones.

Jeferson Soler
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@ DanielThomas-



In other words, you must move to where the new cheese is at or suffer from starvation by staying in the same place. By the way, I like your comments and what you say is true.

Jonathan Jennings
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as Jeferson said very good point daniel. that is the best argument for the wii i have ever read. it makes you wonder, is the future of gaming really casual ? we invest a lot into the big titles that attract that core demographic but could we potentially reach a point where the blockbusters become unecessary?

E Zachary Knight
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@Jonathan,



No the future is not solely casual. The Future is inclusion of all gaming types. The Future is gaming accessibility. The Future of gaming is similar to the current state of movies where there are games for all types of people and not just the fans of action games.

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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Yes, perhaps this inclusion of all gaming types is a vital part of a stable games industry which doesn't go through dramatic crashes. Part of the problem Nintendo are getting rich addressing is the lack of desirable games for beginners and intermediate gamers, who were excluded as games got increasingly complicated and time-consuming.

Amir Sharar
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"I've read the Innovator's Dilemma. Have you read it? Disruption in not just about market expansion (that's more Blue Ocean Strategy), but it's about realizing when an incumbent has overshot the needs of the mainstream market and taking that opportunity to disrupt it."



No I haven't, keep in mind that I'm coming from an academic perspective on the issue which is more holistic and not focusing on one or two aspects here. Secondly, the second part of your statement ties in directly to the Blue Ocean strategy. By addressing the need of the mainstream, they are able to disrupt that market. Again, textbook example being Wii Fit.



"Speaking of evergreen titles, how can a game that sells for 3 or 4 years after it's release, be successful because of marketing?"



Note that "marketing" is not "advertising". Advertising can be a part of marketing. Take for example the move from a WW2 setting, to a modern one, with the Call of Duty series. That decision was a marketing decision. People were getting sick of WW2 shooters, and the change in environment was something gamers were clamoring for. And yes, the game (CoD4) still sells well years later. Branding and advertising are also marketing concepts, and Nintendo has done a great job in the branding department.



"And, yes, you say the "brand" is important, but if the brand of "Wii" works so well, how come Wii Music was not an evergreen title?"



Because people didn't want a music game like that. Fact is, it would have sold even worse if it were called "Ubisoft Music". You are again focusing too much on one element here. Not one facet is responsible the sales of a product. Let me reiterate what I said earlier..."marketing, advertising (note the distinction), perception of value, and timing are also critical elements to a product's success." Obviously you can add more things to that list, like quality and content.



"Or if Mario is such a big brand, why did Super Mario Galaxy sell half as much as New Super Mario Bros."



Despite being "half as much" SMG was still a success. A good part of that success is branding, had any of the titles belonged to different franchises we all know they would not have sold as well as they did. Again, to clarify, I'm not crediting all of the success to branding or marketing. I'm just pointing out that they are important facets that cannot be discounted.



If anyone looks at the sales chart in the article and attributes the success of the Wii titles to solely "it's an example of disruption at work!", it really doesn't help them recreate the same sort of success with their own product.



Gordon said: "When the disruption is complete Nintendo will have taken away the majority of the customers from their competitors. Right now most HD games are either shooters or RPG's. When the Wii is getting huge sales from these types of games then the disruption will be complete. "



Realize that Nintendo clearly wasn't interested in this strategy. This is a strategy that fanboy business analysts like Malstrom conjured up because he wished Nintendo would topple the HD consoles. Nintendo has only finally addressed the concern that the expanded market was getting more attention than the Nintendo fans who are still traditional gamers.



If Nintendo was truly interested in this strategy we would have seen more investment in these games at least 2 years ago. This E3 put a lot of traditional Nintendo fans at ease, but for the most part Nintendo fans would say that Nintendo has done a poor job of catering to the traditional gaming audience up until recently.



Nintendo did not have a set strategy back in 2006 when they released the Wii. They didn't even know if it would be received in a positive manner. To me it looks like Nintendo is making calculating and deliberate decisions on a title by title basis, much like the Wii itself. Each new success has shaped their strategy, from Wii Fit to the success of NSMB Wii (which has obviously opened the door for a new DKC).



Ephriam Knight said: "The Future is gaming accessibility."



Accessibility has been the key word all along. Many don't realize what exactly makes the Wii what it is, and this is it. Which is why I have to laugh at those who mock a product like Kinect, which even with its flaws will make gaming accessible to more and more people (as a technology. In terms of games and software I don't have much faith in MS, but that's just my opinion).


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