[Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews has obtained NPD's U.S. video game retail charts for titles that were newly released in 2010, divided up per platform, and analyzes the surprising results in-depth here.]
Among those ten titles were three games released in 2009: New Super Mario Bros Wii, Wii Fit Plus, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Moreover, the list was composed of combined version sales Ė so the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Red Dead Redemption together placed that title at 5th on the list.
Using exclusive charts provided by the NPD Group, Gamasutra can now reveal the top 10 titles that debuted in 2010 in the U.S. for each three consoles (the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3) and two handhelds (Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable).
Specifically, the charts are limited to games released for the first time in 2010, and arranged per-platform, so they provide a distinctly different perspective than previously released charts.
For a sense of scale in the larger market, the sales represented on the five individual platform charts below represent about one quarter of all console and handheld software units sold new at retail in 2010.
Third Parties Dominate Wii, Not So DS
Our chosen view of sales excludes Nintendo's evergreen titles like Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit Plus, and the remaining chart is dominated by third-party titles from publishers like Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard. In fact, the leading title is Just Dance 2, the follow-up to last year's hit Wii title.
Even so, three Nintendo titles still made the chart: Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Wii Party. The last of these sold just over half a million units for the year, while the top five were million- and multi-million sellers.
The Wii chart is notably weighted toward the back half of the year. Only three games were released before July 2010, and five titles were released in November. We also note that both Nintendo platforms (the Wii here, and the Nintendo DS below) have the most platform exclusives in these top 10 new release charts.
Half of the titles on the Nintendo DS chart were released by Nintendo. These include Pokemon SoulSilver and Pokemon HeartGold, which claimed the first and second spots, respectively.
Collectively these two games have moved over 3 million units since launching in March. Moreover, they are the only two titles on the Nintendo DS list to reach individual sales of over 1 million units.
Kingdom Hearts Leads PSP Chart, PS3 Sees Sony Stalwarts
Sony has recently shifted attention away from its flagging PlayStation Portable system and onto its successor, the NGP, but for the time being we have only sales of the PSP and its software to consider.
As we have discussed in our monthly review of NPD Group figures, retail sales of PSP software have declined continuously over the past couple of years. While the handheld segment is down in general, the PSP in particular has suffered.
Regardless, the system received some significant releases in 2010, including Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, from Square-Enix. That title led the new release sales chart for the PSP in 2010, although its sales were still weak.
In fact, Birth by Sleep was the only new PSP title to break above 300,000 units in 2010, with all others falling well below 200,000.
Sony's PSP strategy has split sales between retail stores and its own online PlayStation Store. Of the ten titles above, only Birth by Sleep and Toy Story 3 are not available from the PS Store.
For the other eight games, there is no reliable third-party means for verifying sales made through the PS Store and Sony is not releasing sales figures. However, for the record, consumer who have purchased a game through the PS Store are permitted to assign a rating to their purchase (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars).
The most ratings that any of the eight other games has gotten is 463 for God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Most of these games have fewer than 100 ratings.
We note, however, that several of these titles also got game-specific bundles in the U.S. in 2010. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Madden NFL 11, MLB 10: The Show, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta all were packaged with PSP-3000 systems (most with custom styling) during 2010, and none of those sales are reflected in the chart above.
Sony's other platform, the PlayStation 3, had a strong year for new releases. The ten PS3 titles shown below had unit sales in excess of the total for the top 10 new releases on the Wii shown previously.
There are several titles on the list from franchises commonly associated with Sony's systems: God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, and Gran Turismo 5. Since we last looked at sales of Final Fantasy XIII back in May, it appears to have passed the 1 million unit mark.
At least one new and notable Sony-exclusive title, Heavy Rain, did not make this top 10.
Xbox 360 Has Shooter Fever?
Microsoft has positioned the Xbox 360 as the platform of choice for console shooters, and in fact Call of Duty: Black Ops and Microsoft's own Halo: Reach were the top two new releases on the system in 2010. Together those two titles on just the one platform accounted for nearly 5% of all software unit sales for the year.
While Madden NFL 11 from Electronic Arts appeared in the number two position on the PS3 list above, it actually sold approximately 17% more units on the Xbox 360 in 2010.
[Thanks as always to the NPD Group for its cooperation with this article.]