On Friday the NPD Group released the top 20 software titles for March 2009 period.
The list provided by NPD includes both handheld and console software. However, in its comments to the press, Microsoft claimed four titles in the top 10 console games, and as context later provided Gamasutra with the sales figure listed below for the Xbox 360 version of Activision Blizzard's Guitar Hero: Metallica (at #11 on the overall chart, but #10 on the console-only one).
Moreover, all 20 titles on this list sold more than 100,000 units, according to notes from Wedbush Morgan's Mr. Pachter.
These refining data points help us get a grasp on range of sales figures for the titles shown below. Note that NPD combines collector's editions, guitar bundles, and other multiple-SKU games into one listing.
There are quite a few interesting points to make about this list of software:
Capcom has had extremely good sales for two months running. Resident Evil 5 for the Xbox 360 knocked Wii Fit from the #1 spot it had enjoyed for the first two months of 2009. The PlayStation 3 version of Resident Evil 5 was not far behind at #4. Last month's #2 and #3 games, Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360 and PS3 (respectively), hung on for another month at #13 and #15 (again, respectively).
Pokémon Platinum took #2 for the month with 805,000 units sold. It is an enhanced remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl which launched in April 2007 with combined sales of 1.76 million units.
Halo Wars sold exceptionally well, giving Microsoft reason to believe the franchise may have a long life outside the original trilogy.
Recent promotion by Nintendo may have pushed up sales of Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the Nintendo DS, even though the game launched over a year earlier. It will be interesting to see if similar publicity of Rhythm Heaven will push that April release onto the charts.
The biggest first-party PlayStation 3 release, Killzone 2, still managed to hit #5 during its first full month of release. It also appeared in the top 10 for February 2009, but only on the basis of two days of sales. Its launch-to-date (LTD) total stands at 620,000 units.
While the Guitar Hero series appears to be doing
fairly well (but down relative to 2008), Rock Band is nowhere
to be seen. In fact, the last Rock Band appearance on the top
20 list was in December 2008 when the Wii version of Rock Band
(not the sequel, Rock Band 2), hit #13
The two publishers – Activision Blizzard with Guitar Hero and MTV/EA with Rock Band – have taken starkly different approaches to the market.
MTV and EA appear dedicated to a single big Rock Band release each year, with smaller track packs available at retail but not heavily promoted. Activision Blizzard, on the other hand, is pushing several Guitar Hero products per year, each with significant promotion. Both franchises are dedicated to regular updates through the online stores, making them key pioneers in serial downloadable content to extend profit margins.
In other data released by the NPD Group, MLB '09: The Show for the PSP took #8 on the top handheld software list for the month. That is the first PSP game to break into the top 10 handheld games chart in at least half a year.