Annual U.S. Games Industry Consumer Spending Declines 5% in Final NPD Group Sales Report of 2022

Better late than never!

Data firm The NPD Group has shared its final games industry sales report for 2022 tracking spending in the United States. Within, it showed a modest sales decline since last year. Mostly expected during the start of a regression towards pre-pandemic values after an all-time best the prior year. There was resilience in the final quarter as bigger games hit market and supply concerns eased, minimizing the downward movement and making 2022’s $56.6 billion the second best year on record behind 2021’s $59.6 billion.

Not bad, all things considered.

During this piece, I’ll recap both the most recent monthly results and annual figures. Buckle up for an in-depth read.

December was one of the brighter reports compared to earlier months, ending a fourth quarter recovery that made full year figures look much better. The big holiday period was the second straight month where total spending increased, after a number of months either down or flat.

That’s even considering a very slight decline in the major category of Video Game Content, which measures software, mobile, subscriptions and related spending. Call of Duty, Pokémon and Madden NFL led the charge here, as often happens. For Video Game Hardware, the only category that grow in 2022 to a best-ever result, Sony’s PlayStation 5 console and Nintendo’s hybrid Switch both spent time atop the monthly rankings.

“Factors impacting 2022 spending included continued supply constraints of console hardware, a relatively light slate of new premium releases and macroeconomic conditions,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella.

As I’ve covered in the past, 2021 was the height of pandemic spending for many regions, including the States. 2022 proved to be the anticipated regression towards more normalized results, exacerbated by mobile weakness and inflationary pressure on people’s wallets. Still, Q4 showed there’s still substantial demand for big budget premium games and new hardware when it’s actually available at retail.

There’s also the cultural touchstone that was Elden Ring, nearly out-earning Call of Duty, which broke into the mainstream zeitgeist more than any FromSoftware game could ever do in the past. Combine that with annualized sports releases, a dual launch year for Pokémon and exceptional showings from Sony-published exclusives, and premium gaming helped offset mobile’s under-performance.

Check below for a full recap of each category last year and a look forward towards 2023.

United States Games Industry Sales (November 27th, 2022 – December 31st, 2022)

Total consumer spend on gaming within the U.S. rose 2% in December, to $7.58 billion. Driven by double-digit gains in the hardware category that more than offset losses elsewhere. This fits the growing trend along with October’s plateau and November’s increase towards growth.

That strength in the final quarter pumped up full year spending to $56.6 billion, which ended up being down 5% compared to 2021. Growth areas like console and subscriptions weren’t enough to out-gain losses in premium software and mobile, also hurting due to macro pressures like inflation.

The largest category of Content dipped a modest 1% in December, down to $5.55 billion. Which means it made up 73% of overall monthly spending, compared to 75% in November. Holiday demand and mobile regaining footing contributed towards the upside.

Speaking of mobile, this sub-segment returned to growth in December as geolocation, simulation, action and shooters gained ground. Still, 2022 became the first 12 months in tracked history where people spent less than the prior year on mobile. Shooters exhibited a most precipitous decline at 26% while casino gains proved popular, moving up 1%. Candy Crush Saga, Roblox and Coin Master were the year’s Top 3 earners here.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 repeated as December’s best-seller on the premium list, which it’s done each month since October’s launch. This led to Activision Blizzard’s military shooter earning the top spot on 2022’s overall rankings as well, as I predicted. That marks a staggering 14 consecutive years where a Call of Duty game was the country’s best-selling title.

Familiar faces continued on the premium best-sellers list for December as Pokémon Scarlet & Violet and God of War: Ragnarök generated the 2nd and 3rd most dollar sales, in that order. Elden Ring benefited from solid demand during the holiday season, returning to the Top 10 at #7.

Late year launches Need for Speed: Unbound and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion started in 8th and 10th, respectively, a quite good showing considering the heavy hitters around it. The only other new title Callisto Protocol under-performed in 17th place, partially because its digital portion was not included. Even if downloads were considered, I’m skeptical it would have cracked the Top 10.

As mentioned before, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the year’s best-seller. In fact, there were two Call of Duty entries among the Top 12 as people somehow retained interest in 2021’s Call of Duty: Vanguard. Then, Elden Ring and Madden NFL 23 rounded out the Top 3 for 2022. Sony’s PlayStation publishing arm had a sensational year with three single-platform games in the Top 13 and another developed title in the Top 10. God of War: Ragnarök finished ahead of bellwethers like Pokémon and FIFA while Horizon Forbidden West and MLB: The Show 22 scored Top 10 spots. Other observations include over-performance of Nintendo’s Kirby and the Forgotten Land floating to #14 and Sega’s Sonic Frontiers speeding up to #16.

Here’s a full look at the software lists for December and 2022 overall, including our first look at the top-grossing mobile titles.

Top-Selling Games of December 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet*
  3. God of War Ragnarök
  4. Madden NFL 23
  5. FIFA 23
  6. Sonic Frontiers
  7. Elden Ring
  8. Need for Speed Unbound
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion
  11. NBA 2K23*
  12. Just Dance 2023
  13. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
  14. Minecraft
  15. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  16. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  17. The Callisto Protocol*
  18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  19. Splatoon 3*
  20. Gotham Knights

Top-Selling Games of 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. Elden Ring
  3. Madden NFL 23
  4. God of War Ragnarök
  5. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  6. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet*
  7. FIFA 23
  8. Pokémon Legends Arceus
  9. Horizon Forbidden West
  10. MLB: The Show 22^
  11. Mario Kart 8*
  12. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  13. Gran Turismo 7
  14. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  15. NBA 2K23*
  16. Sonic Frontiers
  17. Gotham Knights
  18. Minecraft
  19. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  20. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*

Top-Selling Games of 2022, U.S., Mobile (Top Grossing):

  1. Candy Crush Saga
  2. Roblox
  3. Coin Master
  4. Royal Match
  5. Pokémon Go
  6. Evony
  7. Clash of Clans
  8. Homescapes
  9. Bingo Blitz – BINGO Games
  10. Jackpot Party – Casino Slots

The Hardware category is up next, as December generated upwards of 16% growth to $1.53 billion. I believe this might have been a record December month for the console category as inventories flooded the market during the holiday rush, notably from Sony’s suppliers. It also proves that demand is constant at this point in the cycle, which it really should be.

Expanding to the last 12 months as a whole, Hardware sales reached $6.57 billion, jumping up from $6.1 billion in 2021. The NPD Group did say this amount was an all-time best, an incredible achievement considering how slow this segment began the year.

PlayStation 5 leveraged better inventory to become the best-selling console by dollar sales during both December and 2022 as a whole. It was the first year since the new console generation in 2020 that Nintendo Switch didn’t lead on revenue. Big budget IP like God of War and Horizon plus a premium racing game in Gran Turismo 7 bolstered the console, alongside its higher price point that lifted up the revenue side. In the back half especially, Sony’s suppliers seemed to be the best at adapting in this supply environment to secure enough shipments to satisfy pent-up demand.

Even so, Nintendo Switch did win December and 2022 when measured by units, boosted by its more attractive cost and appeal to households that want more than one gaming device. While it didn’t have any pure flagship titles outside of Pokémon, a series which somehow launched two best-sellers in Pokémon Legends Arceus and Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, Nintendo always produces high quality titles that strengthen system sales as series like Kirby and Switch Sports amplified the lineup.

While the Xbox Series X|S came in third place during December and the year on all metrics, it held its own during a tough time for consoles. Microsoft continually cited how it had the best start of any Xbox console in history, albeit at a global scale. There were a few months in 2022 when it achieved second place, though its Series X model in particular seemed to be hit especially hard by supply challenges. The Series S doesn’t generate as much revenue, so Xbox doesn’t compete as much when it comes to monthly best-sellers even in its home market. Not to mention, its slate of first-party software was sparse, which didn’t help.

The general tone of the console business turned quite upbeat as the year went on, ending with a great December and up nearly double-digits for 2022. It’s also a positive sign of things to come, as I’m turning bullish on this portion of the market.

The final segment of Video Game Accessories saw the biggest declines during both December and 2022 as a whole. Last month, spending here dipped 2% to $503 million.

Unfortunately, The NPD Group didn’t share which accessory was the best-selling of the month. Lately it’s been a version of the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, however there’s a chance that an Xbox game pad took home the win. I have a question out to the team for comment.

It follows that for the year, spending in this category fell 8% to $2.51 billion. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller ended 2022 as the year’s best-seller here, a popular upgrade choice for core players that benefits in comparisons like this because of a hefty price tag.

That’s a wrap on the final domestic sales report of 2022. It was a transitory year for the industry, as certain areas returned towards the mean while others under-performed. Mobile weakness, less premium AAA launches and a seemingly lower tie rate for peripherals all put pressure on the final figures. That said, historically it was still the second best annual spending in history so the industry is doing just fine. Easing supply concerns in the latter parts of the year and select premium titles helped keep the result high compared to prior years, even the likes of 2020.

“2022 finished strong, with improving performance in the category compared to a year ago following the May 2022 lows.” Piscatella said on LinkedIn. “With improving supply of console hardware – and a highly anticipated slate of new releases – 2023 looks like it could be a great year for the market.”

Looking ahead to the coming months, I wrote up a general 2023 predictions article earlier in the month. I’ll recap some of those points and touch on more domestic predictions.

When it comes to the overall consumer spending number for this year, I’m looking at virtually flat or an increase in the low single-digits. Assuming a 3% rise would bring 2023 sales to around $58.3 billion. I’m not anticipating another down year for mobile, and a more robust content calendar for AAA releases will bump premium output. Combine this with hardware availability and I’m thinking buyers will spend about what they did last year.

I’m forecasting Content will also be flat or up slightly. It starts with mobile, which should rebound, and continues with a busier software lineup than 2022. On the premium side, depending who you believe, there might be another annual Call of Duty title which I expect to be the best-seller if it does come out. Shoot, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 could even repeat if it has a substantial expansion attached to it instead.

Other contenders include sports titles, of course. This year’s Madden game, in particular. In the next couple months, Hogwarts Legacy and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be massive and both will compete for a Top 5 finish. Nintendo’s major release is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, slated for May, and should be Switch’s annual best-seller even if another Pokémon hits market. Sony’s flagship is Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, listed for launch in the Fall, which will set records for a PlayStation exclusive launch and will certainly be part of the year’s Top 5.

For Xbox, the story is Starfield which some people think will still be out before June. (Spoiler: It won’t.) It’s hard to predict where an Xbox Game Pass release ranks; I could see it as part of the Top 10. Elsewhere, Diablo IV will be a huge hit when it starts in June. I just don’t know if it competes for a Top 3 spot at the end of the day. Final Fantasy XVI is a wildcard. Ubisoft has a couple chances in Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora if they actually launch this year. Then there’s always a surprise or two.

Moving over to Hardware, it’s Sony’s year by a comfortable margin. I bet PlayStation 5 will be 2023’s best-seller on both revenue and units. It will lead most months by dollar sales, and split with Nintendo Switch on units depending on supply and titles i.e. May when Zelda debuts and whenever Marvel’s Spider-Man comes out. I also don’t expect a Switch hardware announcement, and I do think it will land in second place. Xbox can compete for second, I just remain hesitant on Microsoft’s conversion strategy.

Well, that about does it. What stands out to you during December and 2022? Surprised by any of the results? How did your predictions go? What’s in store for 2023? Drop a line here or social media!

I highly recommend checking out Piscatella’s thread on Twitter and the full report at the website here. Thanks for reading these throughout the year! Check back for the first recap of 2023 in a few weeks. All the best, everyone.

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: GeekWire (Image Credit), The NPD Group, Rokas Tenys (Image Credit), Video Games Chronicle.

-Dom

Monthly U.S. Games Industry Spend Increases for 1st Time in 2022 During November NPD Group Report

‘Tis the season.

Awards season? Well, technically yes. I’ll certainly be writing my Year-in-Review articles soon enough! And gaming’s biggest night in The Game Awards aired last week, showcasing the best of the year that was 2022.

What I really mean it’s when The Holiday Sale Season ramps up for video game companies and their efforts to push as much as they can to gamers everywhere. Any time people are shopping, I’m here to analyze sales results.

Because of that, today I’ll be recapping The NPD Group’s recent report on U.S. game sales during the highly-coveted month of November bolstered, of course, by Black Friday. It’s the time when manufacturers and retailers employ strategies to attract people to open those wallets.

And it was a very good month at that, especially in the context of 2022 so far. It’s the first month of the year in which monthly sales increased across the games industry. This is a huge data point given the general economic environment. It continued the strength from October, where buying leveled off after 11 consecutive months of declines.

Overall consumer spending on gaming rose 3% in November, signaling that easing inflation and better supply conditions for hardware proved to be tailwinds for the industry. Out of the three categories of Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories, only Content saw a decline year-on-year mainly due to ongoing mobile weakness. Both Hardware and Accessories generated double-digit growth, the former boasting a substantial gain over last year’s figure.

There’s a few underlying reasons why November came in above expectations. First the release calendar has been stacked the past two months with commercial darlings, including the likes of Call of Duty from October then new titles in long-running series like God of War, Pokémon and, yup, even Sonic the Hedgehog!

Then, the improved stock of consoles, notably for Sony’s flagship PlayStation 5, is getting better at meeting consumer demand. Additionally, The NPD Group cited areas like non-mobile subscription spending, peripherals and digital full-game downloads on consoles spurring growth as well. All of these combined for a terrific month of higher sales.

On the premium software side, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 continued its reign as the top-selling game during November, which it also accomplished the month prior around its debut. Just below that, three brand new games arrived within the Top 4: God of War Ragnarök, Pokémon Scarlet & Violet plus Sonic Frontiers. I’ll dive more into each later in the piece.

Within Hardware, PlayStation 5 was November’s best-selling console as measured by both dollars generated and units sold. Considering some discounting of its Xbox Series X|S competitor and the launch of mainline Pokémon games for Nintendo Switch, this win for Sony is quite impressive.

“I wasn’t expecting that we’d see any month with growth in 2022, but here we are,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella on LinkedIn. “Great new games sell really well. Would be great if more were released. The big uptick in new generation hardware supply sure helped too. Really fantastic month overall, especially when considering all the other market challenges out there.”

Here’s a look at the full report alongside my usual rundown. Get your hot cocoa ready!

United States Games Industry Sales (October 30th, 2022 – November 26th, 2022)

As shown in the info-graphic above, spending across all of gaming reached $6.29 billion in November, indicating the aforementioned 3% growth. Last year, this total was roughly $6.11 billion. For more context, November spending peaked at an all-time high back in 2020 when it reached upwards of nearly $7 billion.

Expanding to the year currently through 11 months, buying is still down 6% to $48.97 billion. Last year’s figure as of November was $52.19 billion.

The largest segment of Video Game Content hit $4.74 billion last month, or 75% of the total, which equates to a decline of 5%. In an ongoing surprise to those of us who track this regularly, mobile continued to drag down the category so much that things like premium games and other software-related sources weren’t able to offset its losses.

“Thanksgiving and Black Friday did not bring a reprieve as [mobile] spend during the week was down 5% year-over-year and 1% from 2020,” said Sensor Tower’s Dennis Yeh in the report. “Barring a meteoric (or catastrophic) final few weeks of 2022, annual U.S. mobile gaming spend should decease 1% – 2% from 2021.”

Mobile’s best-seller list was topped by the likes of Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Royal Match, Coin Master and Clash of Clans. Indicators showed that casino, action and tabletop mobile titles ramped up in popularity during November, while role-playing and shooters were “struggling.”

Swapping to premium software, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 repeated at the top spot during November and continues to be 2022’s leading seller. Activision Blizzard’s military shooter likely benefited from the launch of its Warzone 2.0 battle royale counterpart, plus it now has a full month of retail sales on the books. Nothing shocking about this particular result.

The first new release on November’s combined software list was God of War Ragnarök fighting its way to the 2nd spot. Comparatively, its predecessor in 2018’s God of War earned the top spot when it released in April of that year. Sony’s major exclusive for the back half of 2022 really only missed out on leading the month because it went up against the juggernaut that is Call of Duty.

PlayStation’s Game of the Year candidate is immediately among the Top 5 best-selling titles of 2022. This domestic success parallels its epic global start as the game shipped a staggering 5.1 million copies during its first five days. This is a record launch among first-party games in PlayStation history. Boy, that’s a whole lot!

Speaking of a great start, next up was the latest pair of Pokémon titles in Scarlet & Violet on Nintendo Switch which combine to reach 3rd place. A couple caveats being this includes full sales of both games, then excludes digital because Nintendo still doesn’t want to share that data. To compare against recent entries, Pokémon Legends Arceus started in first during (an admittedly less busy) January earlier this year while November 2021’s Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl also debuted in 3rd.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet already occupy the 7th spot on 2022’s best-seller list. Beyond the domestic result, it’s a historic beginning for this game worldwide, shipping a whopping 10 million units within its first three days. That’s the fastest-selling on any Nintendo platform. Ever. Its monstrous launch set records for the series, Switch as a console and across Nintendo’s entire history!

Moving over to Nintendo’s 1990’s era rival in Sega, the #4 spot on November’s list went to Sonic Frontiers. It’s a rare appearance from the Blue Blur, as there haven’t been many mainline Sonic releases lately. Sonic Mania was a critical success back in 2017 then didn’t sell enough to chart at the time. This latest 3D platformer in Sonic Frontiers is turning out to be quite a fast seller, fittingly, moving 2.5 million copies worldwide within a month on sale.

Familiar names and big movers filled in the remainder of the overall ranks in November. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Mario Party Superstars jumped back into the Top 10. The only other brand new title among the Top 20 was Tactics Ogre: Reborn slotting in at #17, which really is remarkable amidst plenty of big hitters.

Shifting to the 2022 list with just one month to go, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 edges into first place. As expected. It’s the first time since Elden Ring dropped in February that FromSoftware’s masterpiece hasn’t held the year’s top spot. Past that, Madden NFL 23 has secured 3rd as Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga moved down to 4th. MLB: The Show 22 seems to be impacted the most by new entries ahead of it, however it still retains a Top 10 position for now.

Check below for all premium software ranks for November and 2022 to date.

Top-Selling Games of November 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. God of War Ragnarök
  3. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet*
  4. Sonic Frontiers
  5. Madden NFL 23
  6. FIFA 23
  7. NBA 2K23*
  8. Gotham Knights
  9. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  10. Mario Party Superstars*
  11. Elden Ring
  12. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  13. Mario Kart 8*
  14. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
  15. Persona 5
  16. NHL 23
  17. Tactics Ogre: Reborn
  18. Minecraft
  19. Horizon Forbidden West
  20. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. Elden Ring
  3. Madden NFL 23
  4. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  5. God of War Ragnarök
  6. Pokémon Legends Arceus*
  7. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet*
  8. Horizon Forbidden West
  9. FIFA 23
  10. MLB: The Show 22^
  11. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  12. Gran Turismo 7
  13. Mario Kart 8*
  14. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
  15. Gotham Knights
  16. Minecraft
  17. NBA 2K23*
  18. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  19. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  20. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*

The biggest boost to overall spending last month came from Hardware as a category. Console sales rose a momentous 45% during November, reaching upwards of $1.25 billion. This is a stark contrast to the 10% decline during October, which was mainly driven by weakness in Nintendo Switch. Seems like Nintendo may have been holding shipments to attract buyers during the more competitive time frame, or people weren’t as interested until they began Black Friday and pre-holiday shopping.

This excellent monthly result means that 2022 sales have turned positive for Hardware. After trending down 2% as of October, this category is now up 6% for the year right now. It’s generated over $5 billion in sales through the first 11 months, compared to last year’s $4.74 billion.

Funny how that happens when people can actually buy a console if they want it! And the demand is certainly there, as strong as it’s been early in this generation.

Benefiting from a generous supply improvement, the PlayStation 5 earned the top spot in the segment during November by both dollars and units. By my count, that’s four months in a row where Sony’s newest generation has led the segment by both metrics.

Nintendo Switch came in second place by both metrics. While The NPD Group didn’t share growth statistics for individual platforms, like it had in recent months when Xbox and PlayStation families showed double-digit growth, I’d imagine that all three major platforms gained ground based on how the category fared.

After this latest monthly win, PlayStation 5 remains the best-selling hardware platform of 2022 in year-to-date dollar sales. Hanging in there in its own right, Nintendo Switch leads in units.

This dynamic of added availability, especially for PlayStation 5, combined with both an ongoing appetite and better buying power from consumers is providing a boon for hardware late in the year. The perfect time for it to happen for these manufacturers, because they are able to meet the demand during the crucial holiday months. Two years into the new generation, we’re finally seeing the supply side of the curve catching up to demand.

Another solid result during November’s report was Accessories, which often benefits when people spend more on consoles because they acquire peripherals and extra controllers. After moving down 8% back in October, this segment returned to positive territory last month netting $289 million in sales or 10% higher than this time in 2021.

That brings the year so far to $2 billion in spending on Accessories, which is currently trending down 9% due to weakness in earlier months.

Game pads and headset/headphone sub-categories in particular boosted Accessories as a whole during November. The top-selling peripheral last month was the PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller Galactic Purple, paralleling Sony’s win on the hardware side. While The NPD Group didn’t confirm explicitly, I’d bet Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller remained the year’s best-seller due to its outsized price and revenue potential.

Taking everything from November, it was arguably 2022’s best sales result for the U.S. games industry. It’s refreshing to see sales growth again.

Last month was exceptional for consoles, as PlayStation and Xbox continue making up ground after a slower start plus Nintendo Switch is holding up well enough late into its life cycle. On the content front, mobile certainly presents a concern; for now, it’s premium sales of new and earlier games propping up that segment. And there was clearly a good amount of demand for peripherals late in the year.

Now, moving into the last month of 2022, it’s a crucial time that will determine where domestic sales end up for the year. I’m more upbeat than I was even a couple months back, even if I’m thinking we’ll see lower sales in 2022 than last year.

Which wouldn’t be bad at all. 2021 was a record year for domestic spending on games here after all, generating over $60 billion!

Unless December is a major surprise to the upside, I’m expecting total sales will be down for the year in the mid single-digits. Against last year’s $60.4 billion, assuming a 5% drop would bring 2022 to around $57.4 billion. This indicates a December month of roughly $8.4 billion, which would be an improvement since last year’s final month.

Even as a slight drop, almost $58 billion in spending would be a great result for 2022 given the economic challenges and downward pressure the industry has experienced most of this year. It’s not where the industry could be if supply constraints and a number of delayed games didn’t happen. The world is still dealing with a global pandemic during which working dynamics and supply chains shifted drastically.

As for individual predictions, again Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will win December in the Content category. For 2022 in aggregate, I think the Top 3 top-sellers from November will hold serve and finish like that.

December will be much trickier for Hardware. Anecdotally I’ve been hearing more about Xbox Series X|S stock. We know Sony has been moving up its shipments. Nintendo is there for families and households looking for a better entry point. I’m guessing PlayStation 5 will lead December on both dollars and units, with Xbox Series X|S in second by dollars and Switch in second by units.

As for the year, PlayStation 5 will carry this late momentum to a win on revenue. Alongside, Nintendo Switch will take home the crown when measured by units.

So that’s the final thread I’ll be writing on NPD results during this calendar year, because December’s result will take place sometime in January. We’ll have to see how the predictions go, and if the industry surprises me as it often does!

If you want more on the report from The NPD Group, I recommend Piscatella’s thread that’s now on LinkedIn. He has more on platform charts and further details.

Hope everyone is safe and well going into the holiday season, and I’ll be back very soon with my Year-in-Review posts before diving into the new year. Thanks all for the continued support!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: Newsweek (Image Credit), Nintendo, The NPD Group, PlayStation Twitter, Sega Sammy.

-Dom

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Leads Software in Stable October 2022 NPD Group U.S. Games Sales Report

Time is marching on through the latter parts of 2022, and with it comes the first monthly sales report of the fourth quarter from games industry tracking firm The NPD Group.

Ironically, considering it was the spooky season, October proved to be much less scary than most of the year as it broke a long-running downward streak. It’s the first month in exactly one year during which spending on games didn’t show a year-on-year decline, boosted by a new Call of Duty, improving hardware inventories and easing of inflationary concerns.

Overall consumer spending across the three categories of Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories was flat year-on-year, as the largest category of Content moved up slightly. The Hardware segment dipped double-digits, primarily due to a decline in non-PlayStation or Xbox platforms, i.e. Nintendo Switch.

Not bad in general, considering this time last year was the best October on record!

It helps to feature what will likely be the year’s biggest-selling game in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which (expectedly) topped the overall software chart. That makes 15 consecutive years where a Call of Duty title won its debut month. Which is a staggering result for the annualized military shooter especially since many so-called experts have consistently, and incorrectly, called for its demise.

Not only that, as happens this later in the year, the premium software chart was sprinkled with a variety of additional new releases. October saw five new games rank within the Top 10, and three more between #11 and #20. In addition to the aforementioned Call of Duty, the likes of Gotham Knights, NHL 23, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Bayonetta 3 all generated enough revenue to start in the Top 10, driving Content spend upward despite softness in mobile.

Within Hardware, the PlayStation 5 continued its dominance in October, winning out by both dollar sales and units sold. As it has for three months now. What’s reassuring is how Sony’s family of PlayStation 5 devices along with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S family both generated double-digit gains. For four months running. Sensing a burgeoning trend now that supply is getting better? It just took a bit for this generation to get going, seeing as it began during a global pandemic and all.

“October growth in digital sales and subscriptions for console and PC video game content, driven in large part by the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, was offset by declines in mobile content and hardware,” wrote The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella on Twitter.

Signals in October and recent months point to a trend towards increased buying on premium software as the calendar became busier, demand meeting or exceeding console supply and spending bumping up because of it. Prices indicators overall are plateauing right now in the States, so spending power is better than it was earlier in the year. Even as folks are spending less on mobile, other areas are boosting the results.

Read more below as I dig into the domestic sales trends and list out the latest software rankings.

United States Games Industry Sales (October 2nd, 2022 – October 29, 2022)

Looking at the above slides provided by The NPD Group, total monthly sales across the U.S. games industry stayed constant since last year at $4.27 billion. The green trend-line, which shows percentage change against prior year, has been moving mostly upwards since mid-year. I’d say this is the single most important takeaway from recent reports. Essentially, the rate at which spending declined in the back half of the year is improving.

Expanding to the first ten months of 2022 now, spending is still down 7% at $42.7 billion. This is mainly due to headwinds within Content as Hardware is showing a modest decline. There’s worse-than-expected output from mobile and a lighter premium software release slate until just recently in the fourth quarter.

Content as a segment, which includes software sales in addition to subscriptions and mobile, has returned to year-on-year growth, edging up 2% in October to $3.7 billion. Its contribution to overall sales was nearly 87%, compared to 85.5% this time last year. As for annual figures so far, Content has contracted 8% to $37.19 billion. That’s an improvement since last month, when it was trending down 9%, due to the October growth boosted by big budget new launches.

Mobile is traditionally the largest contributor within the Content segment. Unfortunately, last month’s report doesn’t shed much light into this other than to state spending was lower year-over-year. One tidbit from a GamesBeat article highlights how mobile spending could decline in 2022 for the first time in tracked history, an intriguing dynamic given how people are on the go more lately.

Within premium, October’s winner of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is also already the second best-selling game of the year, behind only Elden Ring. One element here is how Activision Blizzard employed a more staggered launch schedule for this year’s title, which seemingly attracted people earlier. Its story campaign dropped on October 21st while the full game hit market on October 28th.

This domestic debut fits the broader narrative of Modern Warfare as the premier sub-brand within the series. This year’s game, which shares a title with the 2009 classic, generated $800 million during its opening weekend and reached $1 billion in sales within ten days on market, becoming the fastest-selling Call of Duty in history and second fastest-selling game ever behind Grand Theft Auto V. (No wonder Microsoft is willing to pay so much for the publisher.)

Moving down the list, Gotham Knights snagged second place in what I’d call the biggest surprise of the month. Despite middling critical reception, the Warner Bros-published game clearly benefited from brand awareness as part of the DC Comics universe. Even without the Bat himself being playable. As a quick comparison point, Batman: Arkham Knight started atop the June 2015 software chart.

Then it’s the sports games, All from American publisher Electronic Arts. Both FIFA 23 and Madden NFL 23 dropped a couple spots respectively to 3rd and 4th. The next highest-ranked new title on October’s list was NHL 23, which scored 5th. This is a notable improvement compared to its predecessor, which dropped at 9th in October 2021.

Coming up next at #6 was Nintendo Switch exclusive Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. The collaboration between Ubisoft and Nintendo is a sequel to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, a title that launched one spot higher in September 2017. (When, I might add, my beloved Destiny 2 was the month’s top earner.)

The final new game among the Top 10 last month was another Nintendo Switch exclusive in Bayonetta 3. Platinum Games’ latest in the long-running franchise is the first to launch on Switch, landing in 9th. It’s tricky to compare to prior games because they started on the failed Nintendo Wii U, which had quite the limited install base. One caveat is digital is not included for Nintendo-published games such as this one.

In terms of other new releases securing spots among the Top 20, there’s Star Ocean: The Divine Force at #14 and Dragon Ball: The Breakers at #16, while PGA Tour 2K23 teed off one spot lower at #17. And while it’s not a brand new title, Persona 5 experienced a massive jump up to seventh place due to its release on a variety of new platforms, including Xbox and Nintendo Switch.

Expanding to the current annual ranks, Elden Rings has held off Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for the time being. Bandai Namco announced recently that FromSoftware’s latest reached an impressive 17.5 million copies sold globally. I expect this dynamic in the U.S. will swap come next month, when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will become the year’s best earner. Otherwise, FIFA 23 bounces into the Top 10, settling at #8, while Gotham Knights continues its impressive start being already the 14th top-selling game of 2022.

Here’s the full list of best-sellers for last month and the year through October.

Top-Selling Games of October 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. Gotham Knights
  3. FIFA 23
  4. Madden NFL 23
  5. NHL 23
  6. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
  7. Persona 5
  8. NBA 2K23*
  9. Bayonetta 3*
  10. Elden Ring
  11. Mario Kart 8*
  12. Splatoon 3*
  13. Minecraft
  14. Star Ocean: The Divine Force
  15. Grounded
  16. Dragon Ball: The Breakers
  17. PGA Tour 2K23*
  18. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  19. NieR: Automata
  20. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  3. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  4. Madden NFL 23
  5. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  6. Horizon Forbidden West
  7. MLB: The Show 22^
  8. FIFA 23
  9. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  10. Gran Turismo 7
  11. Mario Kart 8*
  12. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  13. Minecraft
  14. Gotham Knights
  15. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  16. Saints Row
  17. Madden NFL 22
  18. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  19. FIFA 22
  20. Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales

Console sales, which rose almost 20% in September, returned to a decline last month. Consumer spending on Hardware as a category declined 10% in October to $424 million. This happened despite solid double-digit growth for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, implying that Nintendo Switch made up the difference on the downside.

Intriguingly this didn’t have a substantial impact on the trend for 2022 to date, as Hardware spend is currently $3.78 billion or 2% lower than last year’s $3.87 billion thru the same time frame. That’s only down modestly from a 1% decline as of September. This tells me that availability is still better than it’s been in a long while, even if Nintendo Switch is aging into the back part of its life cycle.

As I predicted would happen last month, I mentioned earlier that PlayStation 5 won October on both dollar sales and units. Sony has been able to shore up its pipeline and suppliers are outputting more boxes to meet demand, and those folks that want a PlayStation 5 are certainly buying when they find one. In my article on Sony’s recent rules, I noted that PlayStation 5 lifetime unit sales reached 25 million. While it’s currently selling at a slower pace than PlayStation 4, the company is way upbeat on the remainder of this fiscal year through March 2023.

One additional note from The NPD Group is Xbox Series X|S landed in second place during October, reaffirming my inference that Nintendo Switch is starting to saturate its potential audience.

On the year so far, PlayStation 5 continues its lead on dollar sales followed by Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch, in that order. When measured by units, Nintendo Switch is still in the lead driven by its lower price point. PlayStation 5 is next, while Xbox Series X|S is in third by that metric.

This checks out, as the higher-priced current generation is making more money per unit sold than Nintendo’s older hardware. Not to mention, there’s more demand for the shiny new boxes. Though Nintendo does benefit from families and households buying multiple devices, a situation that will benefit it during this upcoming holiday period. The Switch recently passed 114 million units globally, still the third best-selling home and handheld console of all time.

In what I’d call the most disappointing result, mainly because it missed my more upbeat expectation after a solid September, Accessories experience 8% lower sales in October to $148 million. Apparently, a new game pad from Microsoft in the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Core wasn’t as attractive, maybe due to its pricing that’s above the likes of entry level controllers. Perhaps there were declines elsewhere that dragged the segment down.

Annual spending on Accessories for 2022 is currently down 12% from last year’s $1.95 billion, totaling $1.72 billion through the first ten months of this year.

During October, Sony’s PlayStation 5 Dual Sense Midnight Black was the month’s top-selling peripheral, a flip from September when it was the base level black Xbox Wireless Controller. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller is still tops for the year, as I confirmed directly with The NPD Group.

As far as monthly results go for commercial output of the domestic games industry, October was the steadiest in recent history. Prior to last month, we had seen 11 consecutive months of spending declines.

This sort of rebound is especially noteworthy since it’s compared against a record-breaking October last year. The Call of Duty effect is of course a big plus, alongside a great showing from Gotham Knights plus those annualized sports titles signaling a ramp up to the holiday shopping season.

Checking ahead to November, which includes the bellwether Black Friday period, I’m anticipating growth in overall domestic spending. Likely in the mid-to-high single digits. Mainly because of the better console inventories, massive PlayStation and Nintendo software launches and a chance for accessories to benefit from deals.

Even considering Call of Duty: Vanguard launching last November, I’m guessing the Content category will be flat or maybe a slight decline. I expect Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will repeat as the top-seller, with both Sony’s God of War: Ragnarök and The Pokémon Company’s Pokémon Scarlet & Pokémon Violet close on its heels. Because the former includes digital, and it’s going to have a potential record-setting debut for a PlayStation exclusive, I firmly believe it can secure second place.

For Hardware, PlayStation 5 should take November on revenue as it will still retain its pricing. I’m much less certain on units sold. I think Nintendo Switch can win by this metric, given the incredible popularity of Pokémon as a franchise.

There we have the latest U.S. sales recap, and predictions as the year begins its end. I highly recommend checking out Piscatella’s thread here, a bittersweet one since apparently it will be the second-to-last NPD report on Twitter. The company is changing formats to a more formal press release style. You know I’ll still cover it here and on social media, regardless of how it’s announced!

Thanks everyone for taking the time to visit the site. Here’s wishing everyone a great November, and a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone that celebrates. Take care and be well!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, GamesBeat, Newsweek (Image Credit), The NPD Group, Sony Corp.

-Dom

FIFA 23 & PS5 Score During 11th Straight Month of Declines for U.S. Games Industry in September 2022 NPD Report

The third quarter has come to an end, and with it brings the latest monthly report from The NPD Group on how spending on the U.S. games industry is faring.

Fittingly for a September, there’s all sorts of football happening this Fall. American or otherwise.

The latest FIFA title launched in this time frame, during which overall consumer spending across Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories declined for the 11th straight month. Good news is last year was a record high for the industry and this September was only 4% lower, a better result than certain double-digit dips during the past several months.

As shown in a chart later, even if these spending declines are happening in succession, the trend-line is turning positive. Plus, 2021 is proving to be more an outlier during which pandemic-fueled spending peaked amidst low inflation and fewer general economic pressures.

Content spending, that on software and related sources like mobile and subscriptions, was the only category to decline last month. Mobile weakness had a lot to do with that, as did its outsized impact on the overall number because it’s the largest segment by a wide margin.

“Content performance was driven by a double-digit percentage gain in non-mobile video game subscription spending,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella on Twitter. “Which was offset by declines across other content segments.”

A bevy of new premium titles dotted the month’s best-sellers list. There were six new releases within the Top 8, to be exact. Many of them were sports titles, sequels or reissues. Among these, Electronic Arts’ FIFA 23 scored the software win in September, knocking its football counterpart of Madden NFL 23 down to second place.

Buying in the Hardware category continued to be a boon as this segment experienced double-digit growth now for three consecutive months. Catapulting this was PlayStation 5 as the top-selling device in September by both units and dollars. As I wrote during July and August, individual data points don’t constitute a reassuring trend. This latest month is starting to make me a believer that supply conditions are getting to where they need to be.

Now, general spending numbers from the first three quarters is still trending down overall as all three categories are currently showing declines. During 2022 to date, people have spent less on gaming than the year prior. This reflects both the historic run a year ago, people seeking entertainment in other areas in addition to macro effects such as inflation and the labor market.

Despite the gloomy headline, fitting for the impending spooky season, September’s report showed multiple reasons for optimism. See below for a full rundown of the numbers then a preview of next month’s action.

United States Games Industry Sales (August 27th, 2022 – October 1st, 2022)

In total, people in the U.S. spent just over $4 billion on gaming last month. That’s down a modest 4% compared to an all-time September high last year. Check the second chart above, in particular the green line showing year-on-year percentage changes, and it’s mostly looking up.

During the first three quarters of 2022, spending declined 8% to $38.4 billion. This movement was driven mainly by contractions in Content and Accessories categories against high comparables last year.

Content spending moved down 7% last month, the only category that wasn’t flat or higher. Its dollar amount reached $3.41 billion or roughly 84% of September’s total. This was mainly attributed to weakness in sources other than non-mobile subscription spending.

Mobile, the sub-category that dictates Content performance, continued to under-perform in September as spending dipped 5% according to Sensor Tower’s portion of the report. Underlying this movement was a worse-than-expected drop in “hypercasual” game installs, declining 40% year-on-year. Overall new installs were 3% lower than last September, marking the worst monthly output since February 2019.

There proved to be more positivity around premium software, as the launch calendar picked up during September due to annualized series. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of dollar comparisons so I’ll rely on historical rankings for at least some context.

As I mentioned earlier, FIFA 23 finished in first place during its debut month. The last soccer game from Electronic Arts to feature the FIFA branding before it switches to EA Sports FC landed one spot above its predecessor, which started at #2 in September 2021. Both titles had only a few days on sale, making the win for FIFA 23 even more impressive. Recently the publisher said this year’s title was the franchise’s largest global launch ever.

Just below August’s winner and September’s runner-up Madden NFL 23 was NBA 2K23 rounding out the Top 3, even without counting digital contribution because publisher Take-Two Interactive no longer shares it. This is the same position as NBA 2K22, which lost to the same two aforementioned sports series. Take-Two Interactive will certainly share more insight into this year’s launch during its earnings presentation in November, where I expect a potential record start.

Nintendo Switch exclusive Splatoon 3 showed up next, splashing its way to the 4th spot. It’s another title that doesn’t include digital, which means upside could be even higher. The last game launched back in July 2017, when it debuted atop the software list. Albeit during a less competitive window. If the latest game’s absolutely massive Japanese launch sales are any indication, I’m anticipating a record global launch for the franchise and one of the fastest-selling Switch games in its near six years on market.

Completing the slate of new entries on the software chart were The Last of Us Part 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle at 5th, 6th and 8th, respectively. While I expected a solid start for Sony’s “remake” of the legendary The Last of Us, the other two proved to be pleasant surprises. Especially JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a series mostly localized to Eastern markets.

Looking at the list of best-sellers during the first nine months of 2022, it’s mostly unchanged since August’s result. Madden NFL 23 boosts into the Top 3 from its Top 5 debut. FIFA 23 enters the year’s best-sellers list at #11 while, further down, Saints Row 2022 jumps a few spots into the Top 15.

Check the full lists below for September and 2022 so far.

Top-Selling Games of September 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. FIFA 23
  2. Madden NFL 23
  3. NBA 2K23*
  4. Splatoon 3*
  5. The Last of Us: Part 1
  6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection
  7. Saints Row 2022
  8. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle
  9. Elden Ring
  10. Mario Kart 8*
  11. Minecraft
  12. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  13. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  14. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  15. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  16. Horizon Forbidden West
  17. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  18. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  19. MLB: The Show 22^
  20. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Madden NFL 23
  4. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  5. Horizon Forbidden West
  6. MLB: The Show 22^
  7. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  8. Gran Turismo 7
  9. Kirby and The Forgotten Land*
  10. Mario Kart 8*
  11. FIFA 23
  12. Minecraft
  13. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  14. Madden NFL 22
  15. Saints Row 2022
  16. FIFA 22
  17. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  18. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  19. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  20. Monster Hunter Rise

Here’s the shining bright spot in September’s announcement: Hardware purchasing, which rose a fantastic 19% to $490 million. Clearly heading in the right direction after July’s 12% move and August’s 14% jump, now boasting a steady three months straight of double-digit gains. Both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S families experienced similar double-digit growth.

Because of this recent spurt, Hardware was nearly flat during the first three quarters of 2022. Spending eclipsed $3.36 billion, just under the $3.41 billion in the same period last year.

This recent move is a great signal for supply easing. There are more consoles being produced, which is leading to better inventories at retail. Demand is holding up its end as well, which should continue throughout the fourth quarter holiday season and into next year.

PlayStation 5 led the pack in September by both units sold and revenue generated, same as it did in August, proving that Sony’s family is consistently improving in output leading into the back stretch of 2022. Nintendo Switch came in second place by units, while Xbox Series X|S generated the second highest dollar sales.

What’s important about this upward momentum in Hardware is how it’s happening in light of various headwinds for consumers. While inflation is somewhat easing in light of a hawkish Federal Reserve increasing interest rates, it’s still quite high. Indicators had shown discretionary spending shifting towards non-gaming activities, though console acquisition is bucking that trend. My read is that’s mainly due to pent up demand for new generation boxes.

Plus, easing inflation will have a positive impact on both sides of the equation; Better buying power and lower input costs. I expect the impending earnings season will reveal similar improvements for console manufacturers. (Check back soon for my full calendar!)

Another encouraging sign from last month’s announcement was spending on Accessories, coming in flat year-on-year at $174 million. This smaller segment is showing signs of life! Or at least stabilization, given how it’s the best monthly performance in almost a year.

“This is the first month since October 2021 in which Accessories spending did not experience a year-on-year decline,” Piscatella noted.

The NPD Group dug a bit into the fundamentals here, stating that Game Pad buying was up in September, which rose enough to offset slower Headsets/Headphones output. Backing this up, the base model Xbox Wireless Controller in carbon black was the month’s top-earning peripheral.

Still, year-to-date spend on Accessories was still down in the double-digit range because of how poorly it performed in earlier months. First nine month spend dipped 13% to $1.55 billion. While the report didn’t state it outright, I assume the year’s best-seller remained Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller.

Taking this past month as a whole, there’s a lot more to like than not with the domestic sales report. Even given the headline of 11 straight months of declines. Since the trend is improving, especially for Hardware and new premium launches, the bright spots are mounting. Supply has been the story, and that narrative is slowly getting better.

How did my predictions from August go? I thought Madden NFL 23 and Splatoon 3 would fare better, mainly underestimating the upside of FIFA 23. I also got PlayStation 5 winning on dollar sales correct, although I thought Nintendo Switch could lead on units. We’ll call that a half-win!

October is the start of the fourth quarter push, and always a great time to be a sales analyst.

Of course, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the bellwether as it launches this week. It will be the month’s best-seller, even with just a couple days on market. In a clear marketing stunt to drive early buying, pre-orders now have early access to its campaign mode.

October will also be highlighted by a couple new Switch exclusives in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Bayonetta 3. Both of these will benefit from the Switch effect, likely landing in the Top 7. Overwatch 2 had a massive start after shifting to its free-to-play early access model, attracting a whopping 25 million players within ten days, so I’m curious to see how this translates on the charts. A Top 3 finish isn’t out of the question, depending on purchasing of its Watchpoint Pack.

PGA Tour 2K23 can be a quiet success, though without digital I’m cautious on a Top 10 start. Gotham Knights will be shaky at best, its commercial lack of success paralleling its tepid critical reception. A Plague Tale: Requiem launched into Xbox Game Pass, so I’m not sure of its upside on the premium charts. I remain upbeat on the sports titles from recent months, especially Madden NFL 23 as the football season progresses.

If PlayStation 5 supply continues, and I expect it to happen, I’m betting it leads on units and revenue again. Partially due to Sony’s marketing deal with Activision Blizzard for Call of Duty.

And how about a rare prediction for Accessories! Microsoft continues to pump out Xbox controllers, highlighted by its more cost-friendly Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Core starting in September. Then there’s Meta Platforms launching its high-end Meta Quest Pro headset in October. I’m quite upbeat on the category, and think it could show mid single-digit growth.

“Things are definitely moving in the right direction,” Piscatella said. “Looking forward to 2023, I’m optimistic.”

I tend to agree! We’ll see everyone back soon for my earnings calendar extravaganza and more articles focused on the industry. In the meantime, I recommend Piscatella’s detailed thread here.

Thanks for visiting! Be well, all.

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Nintendo Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: Electronic Arts, Gizmodo (Image Credit), Nintendo, The NPD Group, Meta Platforms.

-Dom

10th Straight Month of Declines for U.S. Games Industry in August 2022 NPD Report Features Wins for Madden NFL & PlayStation 5

Apparently, because we can’t stop time, Summer’s close to its end here in the Northern Hemisphere. I hope you’ll take a brief moment to embrace the cool air that hits this time of year while watching your favorite football squad and reading through this latest blog of sales updates!

As it does every month, The NPD Group shared its report on consumer spending across the games industry earlier in the week. This time, it’s for August, which proved to be another down month fitting with a recent trend. Still, compared to the all-time record high of last year and considering various headwinds, it’s actually a really good result.

Spending across the three major categories of Video Game Content, Video Game Hardware and Video Game Accessories declined for the tenth consecutive month in a row, albeit a modest 5% dip to $4.1 billion. Compare that to over $4.3 billion in August 2021, and I believe this was the second best August result in tracked history. Not bad, right? Essentially, domestic sales are still in the midst of reversion towards pre-pandemic levels, and last month was slightly above this same time in 2020.

The Content segment’s contribution was down, which had an outsized impact because software and the like make up such a large portion of the domestic total. Even a hard-hitter like Madden NFL 23, which was predictably August’s best-selling premium title, and a Saints Row reboot couldn’t offset losses elsewhere, most notably in mobile.

Hardware was the standout in August, proving to be the brightest spot and yet another indication that availability is slowly improving. Especially for the latest generation of consoles. PlayStation 5 was August’s best-seller by both dollars and units. Importantly, both PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S family experienced double-digit gains compared to prior year, just as they did during July.

Now, one data point doesn’t make a trend. Neither does two. It’s still quite reassuring to see retail inventories going up for both Sony and Microsoft when all we’ve been hearing the past couple years is about supply issues.

Making sure to keep everything in perspective, gaming sales for 2022 are down 9%, with two of its categories in Content and Accessories showing double-digit drops. Again, we’re comparing against strong numbers this time last year. Plus, the industry is still facing pressure from inflation and spending on other entertainment verticals. This sort of stagnation was generally expected this year, and there’s still huge commercial success stories like Elden Ring even during a downturn.

“This is a huge positive shift in the previous market trend,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella to GameDaily. “Of course, this has been helped by the improved supply of new console hardware. And that’s really the key question going into the holiday.”

Now I’ll take a closer look at August’s numbers, starting first with the overall figures then diving into each category. Also see below for a complete list of the month’s best-selling games.

United States Games Industry Sales (July 31st, 2022 – August 26th, 2022)

During the month of August, consumers spent upwards of $4.1 billion across the games industry, down 5% versus the same time last year. This was mainly attributed to a slowing in software, mobile and related sales, since hardware was the sole area of gains.

Spanning 2022 to date, total sales are currently $34.6 billion. This is tracking 9% lower than the same eight months in 2021, when it was over $38 billion.

Content represented the largest portion, earning $3.59 billion in August or 87.5% of overall spending. This number was down 6% year-on-year and occurred despite a major release in the Madden NFL franchise, a perennial top-seller here in the States.

That’s because mobile continued as the biggest factor, facing its second consecutive month of double-digit declines. Mobile sales dipped 10% in August, highlighting how people aren’t spending as much time or money on mobile platforms right now. This spending dip was felt by both major stores as Google Play sales dropped 22% while Apple’s App Store experienced a more modest 1% decline. The NPD Group didn’t share the top-earning mobile titles.

The big story for premium games was yet another great start for football. And no, I’m not talking about the New York Football Giants being undefeated early in the season. It’s how Madden NFL 23 debuted as August’s number one. That marks a staggering 23 straight years that Electronic Arts’ pigskin series has kicked off its debut month with a win. Talk about a long run! This hot start makes it immediately the 5th best-selling game of 2022 so far.

Below that was an under-the-radar Saints Row reboot, ranking second in August. Intriguingly, this open world crime series from Volition is used to being the bridesmaid: August 2013’s Saints Row IV began in second during its first month, also behind that year’s Madden NFL title. Before that, Saints Row: The Third achieved 8th place in November 2011. This year’s game wasn’t well-received from a critical standpoint and had a lot of technical issues, though clearly benefited from its release window for a solid start.

2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man jumped up the chart as the month’s biggest mover, leaping to third place from its prior rank of #84. Why? Well, because Sony is finally, slowly, opening its exclusive portfolio to PC players. The game’s remastered version hit PC storefronts last month. It was the top-selling game on Steam among those tracked by The NPD Group. Even Horizon Zero Dawn went from 28th up to #12, proving that the more platforms, the better for buyers.

In terms of new releases for August, the remaining best-seller was Soul Hackers 2 slotting in at #15. Which is a solid position for Atlus’ stylish role-playing game, appealing to a broader audience in the West. When a port for its predecessor hit Nintendo 3DS back in 2013, it understandably didn’t chart.

Taking a look at the 2022 rankings thus far, the only updates were caused by Madden NFL 23 kicking certain titles down the list. The Top 4 remain untouched: Elden Ring, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Horizon Forbidden West. At present, there are two franchises both with two titles among the Top 20: Call of Duty and Madden NFL. Familiar faces, indeed.

Check below for the full lists then further down for console performance and peripheral sales in August.

Top-Selling Games of August 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Madden NFL 23
  2. Saints Row 2022
  3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  4. Elden Ring
  5. MultiVersus #
  6. Mario Kart 8*
  7. Minecraft
  8. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  9. MLB The Show 22^
  10. Xenoblade Chronicles 3*
  11. Digimon Survive
  12. Horizon Forbidden West
  13. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  14. Far Cry 6
  15. Soul Hackers 2
  16. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  17. Gran Turismo 7
  18. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  19. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  20. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. Madden NFL 23
  6. MLB The Show 22^
  7. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  8. Gran Turismo 7
  9. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  10. Mario Kart 8*
  11. Minecraft
  12. Madden NFL 22
  13. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  14. FIFA 22
  15. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  16. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  17. Monster Hunter Rise
  18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  19. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  20. Mario Party Superstars*

I’m happy to report prospects for Hardware are looking up. Which is especially hopeful for those in the market for a shiny new console trying to beat the holiday rush.

Hardware was the only main category that grew during August, generating $375 million in sales or 14% higher than a year ago. Which tends to happen when people can actually buy consoles. Signs point to better inventories and the demand being there to meet it.

“Supply for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles has been improving in recent weeks,” said Piscatella. “However, we still aren’t seeing full distribution, so there is still some latent demand to be met. It’s very difficult for me to say whether or not we’re seeing the end of supply constraints or a temporary respite before we move into the holiday period and seasonal demand starts to play a role.”

That’s the question, right. Are these temporary upticks that will fade once higher input costs impact manufacturers? Have suppliers shored up the supply chain enough to keep retail stock consistent? Will we see enough PlayStations and Xboxes for Americans to buy in the fourth quarter?

For now, we use the data available and try to project. PlayStation 5 took home the top spot in August by both dollar sales and units. As a reminder, while PlayStation 5 topped July by revenue, Nintendo Switch led by units. This indicates that the latest monthly win for Sony wasn’t just a result of higher average selling price; it’s a byproduct of better general availability.

Going further, that stat of how both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S displayed double-digit year-on-year growth in August is key. It’s happened now for the second month in a row. When it’s occurring not just for one manufacturer, and not just for one month, we can maybe start to project out an improved supply scenario.

Between this, rumors of Sony potentially updating the PlayStation 5 hardware soon, Valve continuing to produce its Steam Deck handheld at a more rapid pace than expected and Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella talking about how Xbox Series X|S is outpacing every prior Xbox generation, there’s evidence mounting that manufacturers and their suppliers are finally ramping up output.

However, it’s nowhere near the end of supply-side concerns. Hardware as a category is still down in spending for 2022 right now, off 4% to $2.87 billion as of August. PlayStation 5 keeps its lead as the year’s top-selling platform by dollars, while Nintendo Switch is still on top when measured by units. There’s plenty to look forward to here, while also acknowledging the risks still in the market, especially when it comes to inflationary pressure and semiconductor shortages.

Rounding out the big segments is Accessories, which experienced the largest spending drop of the bunch in August. Purchasing on peripherals and related products declined 18% last month, to $138 million.

The NPD Group report attributed these losses to slowdowns for both game pad and headset sales. Sony’s PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller in Midnight Black was the top-selling accessory, same as July.

In aggregate for 2022, spending on Accessories is down 14% to $1.38 billion. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller tops the year’s list to date, which the premium game pad has done for quite some time now.

Really, it’s been somewhat of a lull for new product launches within this segment. That will change here in the near future, as both Sony and Microsoft announced upcoming controllers. Sony debuted its PlayStation DualSense Edge around a month ago as a premium offering to go along with its base DualSense model. No word yet on release date.

Then, in early September, Microsoft revealed a couple new products in its Elite series: The “Core” model in white, which is a lower-priced entry in the premium space. Not only that, Microsoft shared that it will open up its Design Lab controller customization options to its Elite series of premium game pads starting later this year.

Both of these product lines should provide a noticeable boon for Accessories in the coming months, and I’m extremely upbeat on the DualSense Edge in particular.

Even with the multiple months of declines lately for U.S. games industry spend, there’s a lot to like about The NPD Group’s most recent report. August 2021 was a historic time for the domestic industry, recording an all-time sales high. This time around, it was only the second best August ever.

Content, notably mobile, is still stacked up against high comparables. I was more upbeat on mobile than I probably should have been, and recent results prove that it’s not immune to slowdowns. Especially as people see other places to spend on entertainment.

What’s most reassuring is the continued evidence of an upturn in console supply. Plus, there are still plenty of folks who haven’t upgraded to the newest generation, either because they couldn’t find one or didn’t want to do so. The fact that there’s better availability is a promising sign going into the back stretch of 2022.

Speaking of, why not close out with some September predictions?

Within premium software, there’s a good amount of potential best-sellers from the list of new launches: The Last of Us Part 1, Splatoon 3, NBA 2K23 and FIFA 23 chief among them.

If Take-Two Interactive was still sharing digital split, I’d bet the house on NBA 2K23 scoring September’s win. Nintendo also doesn’t share downloads, so I’m shaky on Splatoon 3 even considering its tremendous start in Japan of 3.45 million units in three days.

Then there’s FIFA 23, representing the secondary form of football around these parts. Last year, FIFA 22 outranked NBA 2K22 during their first month on sale. Could there be a repeat?

Well, I’m actually thinking Madden NFL 23 goes back-to-back and scores September’s top slot. Then, Splatoon 3 will be right behind it followed by a combination of FIFA 23 and NBA 2K23. PlayStation’s The Last of Us Part 1 will be in the Top 7, I’m just hesitant on its upside.

What this all really means is September will be a fun one for software sales nerds!

Within consoles, I’m guessing PlayStation 5 earns top marks on revenue and Nintendo Switch sells the most units. Primarily because Splatoon 3 is the closest thing the Switch has had to a “system seller” in years.

That brings an end to August’s recap and September’s predictions. I’d point you to Piscatella’s Twitter thread for more information about the report.

I’ll be on vacation soon, though happy to reply to any questions or comments here or on social media in the meantime. Thanks all for hanging out, and be well!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Nintendo Switch Digital Sales Not Included, #Founder’s Pack Edition Sales Only

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: GameDaily, Nikkei Asia (Image Credit), Nintendo, The NPD Group.

-Dom

MultiVersus Fights to Victory During 9th Straight Month of Sales Declines for U.S. Games Industry in July 2022 NPD Report

Summer is trending towards its end here in the States, and spending on video games is showing similar signs of laziness.

As I’ve written about recently, publishers and developers are generally seeing declines from highs of the last couple years when they benefited from more restrictive quarantine measures. This is reflected in today’s monthly sales report from The NPD Group, which showed another period of lower spending by consumers across all of gaming.

With an almost double-digit decline in total spend during July, the games industry experienced its ninth consecutive month of contraction. It’s worth keeping in mind that last year was an all-time high for July spending, so it’s nowhere near a doomsday scenario.

This is attributed to a variety of factors, namely a normalization towards pre-pandemic levels and leaning towards other entertainment options. Purchasing on subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, continues to be the lone bright spot. Losses elsewhere, notably mobile experiencing its worst decline of 2022 to date, prove to be weighing down the results.

Out of Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories segments, only Hardware was able to generate any sort of monthly growth.

In what I’d call the surprise upset of the year, character fighter MultiVersus emerged victorious for overall software sales. This free-to-play game from Warner Bros managed to snag the top spot away from 2022 heavyweights like Elden Ring and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga solely due to people purchasing its founder pack.

Positive signs on the console front continued for Sony’s PlayStation 5 as it led hardware ranks last month when measured by dollar sales, bolstered by improved stock at retail. Which is reassuring, even if temporary, given global chip cost is still increasing and supply chain disruptions are still rearing their ugly head.

The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella shouted out a couple items of note on Twitter, namely the aforementioned improving supply for hardware and an “impressive” start for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch which debuted in fourth place on the software list.

Look below the fold, so to speak, for a full recap of July’s monthly sales report.

United States Games Industry Sales (July 3rd, 2022 – July 30th, 2022)

When compared to the record $4.57 billion in monthly earnings this time last year, total consumer spending on gaming dipped 9% in July to $4.18 billion. The gallery above displays a handful of handy images digging into the specifics. I’d point attention to the trend chart showing the past few years, clearly displaying this latest amount is nearly identical to that of July 2020.

Expanding to an annual figure for more context, aggregated 2022 sales are currently down 10% to $30.46 billion. This was upwards of $33.86 billion in the seven months ending July 2021.

The biggest contributor was Video Game Content, which counts software and related purchasing, hitting $3.67 billion during July. That’s roughly 88% of overall spending for the month. It’s also off 10% from last year’s $4.1 billion.

Mobile is traditionally the main factor within Content. Unfortunately, mobile just experienced its worst monthly decline of the year to date. This was vast under-performance, considering historical seasonality indicates this is when mobile spend should actually be doing well. While the report didn’t share an exact dollar or percentage movement, I’d call it a yellow flag that’s worth monitoring as we move more into the back half of 2022. Top mobile performers, in order, were Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Coin Master, Pokémon Go and Evony: The King’s Return.

Also a part of Content, premium games boasted three newer releases within the top eight of July’s best-sellers.

The shocker here again being July’s leader in MultiVersus, which hit open beta with only days left in the tracking period plus was the best-selling title on the Xbox platform list. It’s reminiscent of 2017’s Fortnite Battle Royale, which started its reign in beta form and remained that way for a while. The reason a free-to-play game like MultiVersus was even on the list, let alone led, was the strength of its Founder’s Pack offering things like characters and in-game currency. Combine a low barrier to entry with solid gameplay and optional monetization for an estimated 12 million players right now and that’s a recipe for solid earnings.

This also means Warner Bros published two of the Top 3 titles within the premium ranks, seeing as Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga moved down one spot to third place. The sheer consistency of this 3D action adventure is notable, maintaining a strong position since starting out back in April.

Sandwiched between those as July’s runner-up was, of course, Elden Ring. Which has been, and will be, a constant force on the U.S. charts. Just yesterday, publisher Bandai Namco shared how From Software’s latest surpassed yet another sales milestone, reaching 16.6 million units sold globally as of June. That’s up 3.2 million since March’s 13.4 million total. I expect it to achieve 20 million next quarter as it will compete with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for this year’s domestic chart-topper.

The second new release to chart in July was Xenoblade Chronicles 3, making it to #4 even without its digital sales counted. That’s the best start for any title in the series from a ranking standpoint. Its predecessor Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ranked #16 back during a heavy holiday month of December 2017, plus the original didn’t make the Top 10 back in April 2012 when it launched in North America. This year’s entry was also Switch’s best-seller during July.

Digimon Survive was the only other new entry on the overall chart, achieving eighth place to start. This is quite the accomplishment for the visual novel slash tactical RPG also published by Bandai Namco, considering it went on sale with only a couple days left in the July tracking period.

As for other movers, Electronic Arts’ F1 22 stood out as passing other titles into the Top 10 during its first full month of sales. Overwatch and Nintendo Switch Sports dropped outside the Top 10 while two older Call of Duty titles in Black Ops Cold War and 2015’s Black Ops 3 shuffled into the Top 20, showing a clear consumer appetite ahead of mid-September’s showcase for this year’s military shooter.

With respect to 2022 so far, the Top 10 list was unchanged as Elden Ring, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Pokémon Legends: Arceus remain as best-sellers. I expect that to change in August. Without a doubt.

Here’s a full rundown of the best-selling software during July and 2022 right now.

Top-Selling Games of July 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. MultiVersus
  2. Elden Ring
  3. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  4. Xenoblade Chronicles 3*
  5. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  6. MLB: The Show 22^
  7. Mario Kart 8*
  8. Digimon Survive
  9. Minecraft
  10. F1 22
  11. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  12. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  13. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  14. Overwatch
  15. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  16. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  17. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  18. Far Cry 6
  19. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  20. Monster Hunter Rise

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. MLB The Show 22^
  6. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  7. Gran Turismo 7
  8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. Madden NFL 22
  11. Minecraft
  12. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  13. FIFA 22
  14. Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales
  15. Monster Hunter Rise
  16. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  17. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  18. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  19. Mario Party Superstars*
  20. Dying Light 2: Stay Human*

The only large segment to gain in July was Video Game Hardware, moving up a solid 12% to $362 million in consumer spend. I believe this is the best result since way back in July 2008, when it reached almost $450 million during the height of Nintendo Wii fever.

Funny what can happen when people can find boxes at retail!

Consoles sales are still currently down year-to-date, albeit Hardware is the only category to remain in single-digit decline territory. During the first seven months of 2022, spending totaled $2.5 billion or 7% lower than the $2.67 billion at this point last year.

Just as it did back in June, PlayStation 5 generated the highest amount of dollar sales compared to all other competitors. Xbox Series X|S came in second place, as I confirmed with The NPD Group directly. Both families generated double-digit gains in revenue compared to July 2021, which is reassuring at this stage in the cycle given where supply has been the past two years.

This is great sign for these manufacturers individually and the general potential of the domestic industry here in 2022, implying better inventories and ongoing demand. The economic equation has been out of whack for too long, leading some to believe that scarcity was leading to increased levels of buyer interest. Personally, I maintained the demand side has been consistently high since late 2020. It’s just time for supply to catch up, hopefully over a longer time frame rather than a temporary boost.

If measured by unit sales, Nintendo Switch topped the category again during July. Similarly, PlayStation 5 was the runner-up by this metric. Same as June, in both regards.

The major takeaway for those that track these things closely is supply constraints might very well be easing. Slowly. Or the refrain could be temporary. With the semiconductor situation globally where experts are still projecting 10 to 15% price increases, I’m hesitant to be too optimistic in this area. What’s great is the supply chain seems to be firming up. That’s on display with PlayStation’s results here plus something like Valve increasing production of its Steam Deck handheld. Consumer electronics are hitting the market.

Along these lines, Sony is quite upbeat on the remainder of this year into early next year for PlayStation 5, which recently hit nearly 22 million in lifetime shipments. It recently reiterated what I think is an ambitious 18 million units sales target for the fiscal year ending in March 2023. Right now, the current generation of hardware is lagging its predecessor, though executives are signaling strength to the market. I hope that turns out to be true, even if my forecast is in the 15 to 16 million range. As a reference, Sony shipped 2.4 million units during April to June which is up slightly from 2.3 million a year back.

Nintendo is more conservative on its aging Switch hybrid as compared to prior years, setting an achievable target of 21 million for its fiscal year ending at the same time. Granted it’s at over 110 million units lifetime, with only a couple years left before its successor in my opinion as I don’t expect another mid-generation refresh or any sort of “Switch Pro XL HD” version.

The remaining category of Video Game Accessories moved down the most during the month, dipping 22% to just under $150 million. Now, everything in perspective. This is against another record-high for a July month last year when it reached $190 million. Thus, while it’s more than a 20% decline, the comparable period last year was the strongest ever.

When accounting for the year to date, Accessories spend is now just above $1.2 billion. That’s also showing the most precipitous decline of the three categories at 15% lower than last year’s $1.41 billion.

Running in parallel to the Hardware segment during July, a PlayStation product led the charge. The PlayStation 5 DualSense Midnight Black edition was the top-selling accessory, retaining its monthly lead from June. Sony’s controllers, both current generation DualSense and DualShock 4, have been consistently winning the past few months.

Still, the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller maintains its stranglehold on the annual period so far based on generating more revenue per unit because of its premium price tag. It’s been leading year-to-date for a while now.

Accessories isn’t the most glamorous of topics, I’m wondering when we’ll get a virtual reality headset check-in from NPD Group any time soon. In particular, the Meta Quest price increase kicked in earlier this month. Which, even with a dip in demand, might cause dollar sales to rise. I’d still expect a game pad to lead, mainly because of negative reaction from consumers to any sort of price bump in an inflationary environment.

For those of us tracking the U.S. games industry closely, the themes of 2022 were well intact during July: normalization, inflation, supply challenges and lighter spending compared to strong comparables. The release calendar was still quite light, even with a surprise like MultiVersus and a solid start for more niche titles in the West like Xenoblade Chronicles and a Digimon visual novel.

Now, August is when things will really pick up on the premium software side. It’s the perennial start of the games industry’s commercial swell before pushing into the pre-holiday competition.

As it does every year, a new Madden game will kick off the late summer sales rush. Madden NFL 23 fully launches today from Electronic Arts, featuring the late great John Madden on its cover. Regardless of its reviews and reception, this franchise will always be a commercial juggernaut leading into the football season. I’m expecting it to lead August’s ranks, and easily at that.

The other brand new AAA launch for August is Saints Row incoming next week on a multitude of platforms. Volition’s latest in the long-running open world franchise is a reboot this time, so it’s somewhat of a wild card when it comes to sales. I think it’s releasing at the perfect time, with no Ubisoft or Rockstar open world debuting alongside, which will provide a noticeable commercial benefit. Published by Deep Silver, I see Saints Row starting in the Top 5 on August’s overall software list.

Otherwise, Nintendo’s slate is light as a feather without any major games of note. Soul Hackers 2 from Atlus will be out soon, and I could see an appearance in the Top 15. PlayStation also launched its Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PC, which could very well fling back onto the charts.

Considering how stock might go, I’m forecasting another PlayStation 5 dollar sales lead in August. July’s numbers and anecdotal evidence all show a continually improving supply situation for Sony and its peers. Plus, a major multi-platform sports title like Madden hitting market means there’s going to be more casual folks yearning for the hottest new generation console. That said, I’ll wager Nintendo Switch keeps its unit sales win streak alive even without any first party bangers.

That’s a wrap on this past month’s analysis. I highly recommend checking out Piscatella’s thread on social media here because he highlights more on the platform side and various details. As always, thanks for visiting. Be safe and healthy out there!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Nintendo Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Note: Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise mentioned.

Sources: Bandai Namco, Sony Corp, The NPD Group.

-Dom

Elden Ring Retains Top Spot for Software as Total Spending Declines Again in June 2022 U.S. Games Industry Sales Report

The first half of 2022 is in the books, and the year’s best-selling premium game Elden Ring has repeated as the top software amidst another downward slide in consumer spending.

Based on today’s monthly sales report from tracking firm The NPD Group, FromSoftware’s masterpiece has led the premium ranks every month since launch in February except for one.

This sort of early success, even for the premium soulslike developer, is truly remarkable. Plus, it’s mostly unpredictable even for the most bullish of analysts. Including me!

Speaking generally on the industry, while June wasn’t as quiet as May, it’s still been a chill start to the summer. Overall spend dipped double-digits again in June, marking eight consecutive months of declines. Subscription growth couldn’t outpace headwinds from most other categories. The first half of 2022 was no different for total market spending, coming in 10% lower than last year.

Two of the major segments, Content and Accessories, also declined double-digits. Hardware performed the best from a percentage standpoint, even if still down. Better PlayStation 5 inventories and the lower cost Switch helped stabilize a bit. Perhaps even the Steam Deck?

As I’ve said in recent articles, these reversions to more normalized spending are expected this year as we exit quarantine highs and suffer from the worst inflation in decades. It’s eroding buying power, which hurts when combined with limited supply on the hardware front and fewer premium launches.

Within the broadest category of Content, mobile spending fell albeit at a slower pace than May. Earlier titles Elden Ring and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga led the premium charts, while Mario Strikers Battle League debuted in the Top 3. There were five new entries among the Top 20 best-selling games.

There was a flip in Hardware that’s actually quite noteworthy. PlayStation 5 took the reigns in June as the best-selling console by dollar sales. Not only that, it also led first half of 2022 by this metric, stealing it away from the Xbox Series X|S family which was in the lead until now. This indicates Sony secured enough production to satiate more demand, not to mention its premium price point boosting that monthly revenue figure.

Speaking of the first half, the biggest factors right now for domestic spending on games are mean reversion from earlier parts of the pandemic, rampant inflation, availability of hardware at retail plus minimal premium games. Subscriptions and ongoing content aren’t enough to push spending towards growth. It’s a cooling off period compared to recent history for this variety of reasons, as the broader economy signals a looming recession. In fact, we might already be there.

What about the numbers behind these trends? It’s time to look deeper into June’s report.

United States Games Industry Sales (May 29th, 2022 – July 2nd, 2022)

Overall sales in June across all gaming categories settled at $4.34 billion, or 11% behind the same month in 2021. This figure is off 10% when expanding to the first six months of 2022, aggregating to $26.27 billion against last year’s $29.29 billion.

Underlying the decrease was lower spending in all segments during both time frames, as displayed in the gallery above. Silver lining is June’s lack of growth wasn’t as bad as March or May, when it shrunk 15% and 19% respectively.

Spending on Content (i.e. software, subscriptions, mobile and related areas) in June saw a similar 11% reduction, to $3.79 billion. During the first six months of 2022, Content spend declined 10% to $23 billion. Which means it comprised 87% of the monthly total and 88% of 2022 to date.

The bright spot here of subscription growth was bolstered by Sony’s PlayStation Plus rebranding attracting users to sign-up or upgrade existing plans. It displays the importance of subscriptions like this and Xbox Game Pass in propping up lulls in mobile and other content offerings.

Last month, mobile decreased nearly 11% which actually improved from the 13% dip in May. Google Play is driving this sub-segment downward, while App Store spending actually rose slightly for the first time since back in February. Very slightly, at 0.16%. Hey, it’s still growth!

This contraction in mobile is backed up by a recent report from Sensor Tower, a tracking firm that collaborates with The NPD Group for these monthly data drops, that global spending on mobile is trending down 7% so far.

Premium title activity picked up in June with some new arrivals. Still, the highest positions were occupied by familiar faces.

Namely Elden Ring, which continues its phenomenal first few months. It topped June’s overall software list, meaning it’s led every month since release except for April. The Bandai Namco-published game continues as best-seller for both 2022 and the latest 12-month period. The legs on this game are ridiculous. It’s maiden them a lot of money!

After Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in second, we see the Switch in full effect. Mario Strikers Battle League kicked off its placing in 3rd during its initial month on sale, and led the Switch platform list. In fact, Nintendo published 4 of the Top 8 best-sellers on June’s combined list as recent titles like Nintendo Switch Sports and Kirby and the Forgotten Land stuck around. And might have been higher if Nintendo included digital sales.

A number of June releases settled outside the Top 10. F1 22, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Sonic Origins and The Quarry all started in this range.

Then there’s a couple legacy titles re-entering the Top 10 as Overwatch captured the 5th slot and Final Fantasy 7 Remake grabbed #9, impacted by sequel news for both franchises. These worked to push Call of Duty: Vanguard out of the Top 10, a rare sight for the series published by Activision Blizzard whose top executives fostered an environment of misconduct and harassment for years yet still haven’t been punished for it. (They probably never will.)

“In my opinion, it’s the lack of compelling new content that is holding back premium sales right now,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella on Twitter. “New games that reach market are doing very well, there are just fewer of them. We also had the PlayStation Plus relaunch in June, which gave a nice kick to overall subscription spend in the month.”

As for the 2022 overall chart, there was no movement within the Top 10. Elden Ring, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Pokémon Legends: Arceus continue as the year’s biggest commercial successes.

See below for a full rundown of June and 2022 software rankings.

Top-Selling Games of June 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Mario Strikers Battle League*
  4. MLB The Show 22^
  5. Overwatch
  6. Mario Kart 8*
  7. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  9. Final Fantasy 7: Remake
  10. Minecraft
  11. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  12. F1 22
  13. Monster Hunter Rise
  14. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Hinokami Chronicles
  15. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  16. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes*
  17. Sonic Origins
  18. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  19. The Quarry*
  20. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Top-Selling Games of 1st Half of 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. MLB The Show 22^
  6. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  7. Gran Turismo 7
  8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. Madden NFL 22
  11. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  12. Minecraft
  13. FIFA 22
  14. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  15. Monster Hunter Rise
  16. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  17. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  18. Mario Party Superstars*
  19. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  20. Dying Light 2: Stay Human*

As for the category with the best year-on-year performance in June, or should I say the least severe decline, Hardware moved down 8% to $371 million. That means first half of 2022 spending on consoles totaled $2.13 billion, or 9% lower than last year’s result of $2.36 billion.

We’ve talked supply to death, and that’s certainly the driver here in addition to some other points I mentioned earlier. There is some good news, in particular for Sony, in that inventories are popping up here and there on both manufacturer storefronts and retailer shops alike. Nintendo Switch availability looks consistent as well.

Sony’s increased production led to PlayStation 5 taking the lead on dollar sales in June as it benefited from a double-digit spending increase. While a month doesn’t make a trend, this sort of data point is positive in this environment. And we’ll certainly take what we can get these days. For the month, Nintendo Switch came in second place by revenue.

Increased availability bumped Sony’s current generation box to win the first half of 2022 by dollar sales. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S family, which was leading up until last month, is currently the runner-up.

When using unit sales as the benchmark, Nintendo Switch won June followed by PlayStation 5. Switch also leads units for the year to date, with Xbox Series X|S next up.

Got all that? Hah. I know it’s a lot to sort out when looking at hardware from these multiple angles. I wrote last month that the data points to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S being very close when using revenue as the indicator, which is supported by Sony taking home June and moving into pole position for 2022. I’d imagine the gap is quite minimal in the scheme of things, and can turn based on whose supplies are producing more because both of these have premium price points.

Switch is consistently competing on units, though generating less revenue than its counterparts which is the logical outcome. It, like PlayStation really, also relies on major first-party titles more because they aren’t available anywhere else. Much less so than Xbox Series X|S which continues Microsoft’s mission of subscriptions and services.

Pushing into Accessories, this felt the worst hit of lower discretionary income and normalizing of buying on the consumer side as it experienced the worst declines of the three major categories.

Spending here on game pads, headphones and similar peripherals lowered 15% in June to $176 million. It saw a 14% decline during the year’s first half, totaling just over $1 billion compared to $1.22 billion during 2021 H1.

After Sony’s DualShock 4 led at least a couple months, the current generation PlayStation 5 DualSense is back as the month’s top-seller. This time, it’s the Midnight Black iteration of the DualSense that took home first place.

Expanding further, Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller continued as the best-selling accessory of 2022 currently. Which has been the case most of the year because of the higher relative cost per unit.

The domestic games industry bounced back a bit in June after a two-year spending low in May, showing occasional bright spots in areas like subscriptions, newer premium titles and a current hardware cycle that’s fighting the best it can against supply push-back.

Subscription spending is showing strength. Elden Ring can’t be stopped and five new games on the overall chart are propping up Content amidst softening areas like mobile. Even if the new games aren’t the biggest of commercial hits.

It does feel like the market is yearning for massive new AAA titles in this year of so many game delays, a sentiment echoed by Piscatella’s earlier comments. Game development is difficult in any environment, and teams are still adjusting to the new normal of hybrid working. Not to mention there are still coronavirus variants impacting many countries, plus people are contracting the virus for the second time. It’s a precarious situation, and I give developers credit for hanging in there right now.

Considering this, the calendar is now shaping up for the back half of 2022.

PlayStation seemingly locked in The Last of Us Part 1 remake for September plus God of War Ragnarök for its early November slot. Ubisoft’s collabo with Nintendo in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is October, while the French publisher’s Skull and Bones is slated for November as well. Nintendo has Splatoon 3, Bayonetta 3 and Pokémon re-imaginings all before the holiday season. Gotham Knights, Saints Row reboot and, of course, the second Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 have been positioned later in the year for a while now.

Before then, July is going to continue as a mostly dry summer month on the premium side. F1 22 will have a full month of sales on record. Stray is an intriguing indie title from Annapurrrrrna Interactive (had to do it), also hitting PlayStation Plus simultaneously next week. As Dusk Falls is a narrative adventure and Xbox console exclusive. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 is out soon on all major platforms, while Live a Live finally reaches the States via Switch. The month’s biggest drop is probably Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also on Switch, though it will only have two days in the period.

With this light of a schedule, I’ll stand behind Elden Ring as July’s top earner again. I can see Xenoblade establishing a Top 5 finish.

Within the Hardware segment, I’m upbeat on PlayStation 5 after its June performance and seeing more stock via anecdotes and retailers online. I think it takes the first month of 2022’s back half on revenue, while Switch stays atop the console charts on units.

July also brings the start of my favorite time of the quarter: earnings season! Before we reconvene for the next monthly NPD sales report, I’ll have articles covering the earnings calendar and major company results.

In the meantime, shout out to Piscatella’s thread on Twitter covering today’s report. I hope everyone has a great rest of the month, feel free to send a comment here or on social media. Be safe and well!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Nintendo Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise noted.

Sources: GameDaily.Biz, The NPD Group, Venson Chou (Image Credit).

-Dom

May 2022 U.S. Games Industry Spend Falls to Lowest Monthly Total in Over Two Years Based on Latest NPD Group Report

Even if seasonal gaming announcements are heating up lately with Summer Game Fest and the Xbox & Bethesda showcase, consumer spending here in the States is cooling off. Considerably.

That’s according to the latest monthly U.S. video game sales report from tracking firm The NPD Group. While this made sense based on where we are in post-lockdown times, supply challenges on the hardware side plus a low number of new software titles, the impact on May’s result was greater-than-expected.

Total spending declined almost 20% last month to $3.68 billion. That’s the lowest monthly amount since the early parts of the pandemic back in February 2020. All major categories of Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories experienced drops, the first two by double-digits.

This marks seven consecutive months of sales declines.

Now almost at the halfway mark, 2022 is proving to be an off year for big budget spending on games. I predicted more game delays due to the knock-on effect of making them in a pandemic, and that’s having a significant impact on spending even when publishers have more ongoing or evergreen titles than ever.

There’s the reversion towards normalized spending down from quarantine highs, weakness in mobile, lacking inventories for consoles and a dearth of AAA games. Plus, I believe rampant domestic inflation is clearly impacting discretionary spending. When a gallon of gas here jumps above 5 bucks and the Consumer Price Index rises at its fastest pace in four decades, people tend to spend less on entertainment.

The largest segment of Content dipped 19% in May, weighed down by a lower mobile contribution and no blockbuster releases. Evil Dead: The Game was the only debut among the Top *50* best-selling titles, starting at an impressive fourth place on the overall chart. Compare this to even as recently as March when five of the Top 10 were new to market.

Within Hardware, a category that declined 11% in May, Nintendo Switch continued its consistency this time as the top-selling box by both dollars spent and units purchased. Nintendo’s hybrid console is 2022’s best-seller by units, though Xbox Series X|S is still in pole position when measured by revenue. Notably bolstered by its premium price and occasionally better availability as of late.

“We have a very light new release slate, we have a return to experiential spending, and we have higher pricing in everyday spending categories like fuel, groceries, and dining,” NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella said to GameDaily. “Each of these factors may be playing a role in the declines we’re seeing right now.”

Even on an off month, we dig into the numbers. Because it’s fun! Read on for more.

United States Games Industry Sales (May 1st, 2022 – May 28th, 2022)

Across the full domestic market of games, consumers spent that $3.68 billion in May overall or 19% lower than a year prior. This leads to a year-to-date figure of almost $22 billion, which is down 10% from the $24.4 billion during the first five months of 2021.

It’s important to keep in mind the annual chart above showing movement in recent years, displaying the trajectory compared to pandemic months. During early months, 2022 was trending above those except for last year’s historic highs. Now, it’s reverting back towards where it was in mid-2019. It’s proving to be a challenging second quarter, no doubt exacerbated by software delays out of this period and publishers still feeling the effect of remote working.

The largest category of Content covers mobile, software and various additional add-on purchases. It experienced the same 19% dip in May, falling to $3.33 billion from over $4.13 billion due to downward mobile pressure and softness in premium. It made up 91% of the total during both time frames.

Expanding to the current annual figure, Content has generated $19.3 billion in sales through May which is down 10% year-on-year from $21.45 billion.

Focusing on mobile first as the segment’s primary indicator, this is at least the third straight month of declines. Google Play revenue in particular is having a rough go, dipping 23% in May, while Apple’s App Store lowered less than 3%. At least the Top 10 sellers rose in contribution, adding 1% to the total. So there’s some silver lining in the current cloud of dreariness.

Elden Ring regained the top spot on the premium best-sellers list for May, boosted by topping Xbox and Steam platform charts, flipping spots with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga which moved to second place. This means FromSoftware’s Elden Ring has led each month since its launch except one. It’s still the best-selling title during both 2022 and the latest trailing 12-month period.

As I alluded to before, Evil Dead: The Game was the sole new title to chart, ranking fourth overall. It snatched up third place on both PlayStation and Xbox individual lists. Publisher Saber Interactive’s parent company Embracer Group said recently the title accumulated over 500K units sold during its first five days on market, echoing its early success here.

Otherwise, it’s admittedly somewhat of a snooze-fest amidst this pre-summer lull. Even without digital, Nintendo Switch Sports and Kirby and the Forgotten Land both moved up a couple spots to #3 and #6, respectively. There’s now three Call of Duty titles in the Top 20 as publisher Activision Blizzard tried to pump up interest by revealing trailers for second Modern Warfare 2. Keep in mind this is the publisher that Microsoft is acquiring and has a management team, led by a CEO in Bobby Kotick who still hasn’t lost his job, that fostered sexual harassment and mistreatment of marginalized groups for years.

Then there’s the games that just don’t quit. People are, somehow, still buying enough copies of Minecraft every month to keep it around the Top 10, this time holding ground at #11. And I assume in light of hype around Bethesda’s upcoming space odyssey Starfield maybe combined with discounting, folks are picking up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim enough to land it back in the Top 20 for the first time in almost five years.

Checking out the 2022 to date chart, it’s virtually the same as April. Elden Ring, Call of Duty: Vanguard plus Madden NFL 22 make up the Top 3. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga edges up into the Top 3, and of course Mario Kart 8 re-enters the Top 10.

Here’s a full look at the May and 2022 premium software lists.

Top-Selling Games of May 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  4. Evil Dead: The Game
  5. MLB: The Show 22^
  6. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  7. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  8. Mario Kart 8*
  9. Gran Turismo 7
  10. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  11. Minecraft
  12. Horizon Forbidden West
  13. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  14. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  15. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  16. FIFA 22
  17. Mario Party Superstars*
  18. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl*
  19. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
  20. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus*
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. MLB The Show 22^
  6. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  7. Gran Turismo 7
  8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. Madden NFL 22
  11. FIFA 22
  12. Minecraft
  13. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  14. Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales
  15. Monster Hunter Rise
  16. Dying Light 2: Stay Human*
  17. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  18. Mario Party Superstars*
  19. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  20. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Sales of Hardware moved in a similar direction as Content, though its drop wasn’t quite as severe. This category moved down 11% in May to $216 million. Which means annual sales to date are 9% lower than the same period last year, or $1.76 billion.

The story remains market inventory with current generation boxes, as manufacturers and their suppliers wrestle with higher costs and limited part availability. At this point in the cycle, even with a good comparable last year, spending should be stronger.

That said, Nintendo was able to maintain enough stock to lead May hardware results by both dollars and units. By my count, that’s three straight months now where it’s led by unit sales after April’s milestone of passing PlayStation 4 on the all-time best-sellers list in the States.

When taking the first five months of 2022 together, Nintendo Switch has the best result so far by units sold driven by a lower cost to buy on average. Xbox Series X|S is best by revenue, followed by Sony’s PlayStation 5. Which is an intriguing stat. The volume of Switch sales on the year hasn’t been enough to earn more than its peers. To me, that signals the Xbox and PlayStation families aren’t far behind on units. (We don’t know for sure as NPD Group doesn’t share more detailed figures publicly.)

In addition to the struggles of supply that have plagued the industry since at least late 2020, I’m curious if a lack of so-called “system-seller” titles is also contributing to hardware performance. This is traditionally a major reason for folks to upgrade to a new console like PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S, when they can find them, so it certainly doesn’t help in a slower part of the cycle.

“The industry needs more new games!” said Piscatella. “And the pressures that we’re seeing from other areas of the market, such as higher prices on everyday spending categories, and having more entertainment options available for folks, sure seem likely to be having an impact.”

While it’s the smallest segment by dollars, Accessories didn’t drop as much as its counterparts did last month. Sales here totaled $131 million, down 7%. However, a weak early portion of the year means it’s still experiencing the worst performance of 2022 as spending is off 15% through May to $743 million.

Intriguingly, last generation’s PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black again leads the monthly Accessories group, same as April. If people can’t find a PlayStation 5, they are playing its predecessor which benefits sales of corresponding game pads.

Even so, Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller retains its position as the top seller of 2022 right now. That premium price is paying off.

I wrote last month that I expected a quiet one in May. That it was, and then some, with the lowest output in quite a long time.

Taking its report as a whole, it was an off month at the big budget level for sure. This tends to happen when there’s limited retail inventory, mobile drag, minimal major game releases and significant inflationary pressure impacting buying power.

“The market had been trending under pandemic highs,” said Piscatella. “But May 2022 brought a bigger dip, at least partially driven by the very light new release slate in the month.”

There’s also something I’ve been saying for a while that I think is overlooked: there’s a longer tail from the impact of shifting to hybrid and remote working. And it will continue in the near term, for years to come. I don’t think anyone should be surprised by delays, dry spells and lower spending on games this year.

On this subject briefly, there are also development studios in and around Russia suffering from the country’s invasion of Ukraine. In an especially heartfelt video this week, STALKER 2 developer GSC Game World shared a harrowing diary on how its team was transplanted. There are even employees fighting on the war’s front lines or supporting relief efforts. It’s a difficult yet important reminder of how the geopolitical landscape affects our beloved industry.

Going forward towards June, the good news for Content is there’s a couple notable titles. Nintendo’s Mario Strikers Battle League and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes will both benefit from the Switch effect. Take-Two Interactive published The Quarry, a campy horror title that may be a cult favorite. There’s even something like Fall Guys hitting new platforms and Diablo Immortal on the mobile side, albeit with pretty rough users reviews with its questionable monetization model. Not to mention downloadable content for Cuphead, Monster Hunter Rise and Outriders among others.

The bad news is sales during June the past couple years has been abnormally high, so I still expect a retraction overall.

What about the winners for Content and Hardware? Well, Elden Ring has a legitimate chance of winning again because of its ridiculous legs. I’ll take a chance and say it’s the new entry from Mario Strikers.

Subsequently, betting on Nintendo Switch in hardware is probably the safest for June. If I can even describe it as “safe.” I’ll wager Xbox Series X|S continues as top dog by dollars for 2022.

Until then, I recommend reading Piscatella’s thread here for further details. Thanks for stopping by. Have a safe rest of the month!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox & Nintendo Switch Digital Sales Not Included

Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise noted.

Sources: GameDaily.Biz, The NPD Group, Embracer Group.

-Dom

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Leads U.S. Game Sales & Nintendo Switch Reaches New Milestone in April 2022 NPD Group Report

It feels like I just posted my March recap, and here’s April! Time flies when you’re having fun, or getting old.

Existential dread aside, this morning The NPD Group was back with its latest monthly games sales report documenting consumer trends in the United States. While folks are spending less on the games industry compared to last year, there’s still plenty of successes to highlight.

Total sales across Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories categories dipped 8% during April, which means spending has lowered year-on-year for six consecutive months. This is also the second straight April month with lower sales after last year’s 2% decline. Hardware was the only category exhibiting growth, while Content and Accessories both experienced double-digit dips.

Within the largest category of Content, mobile saw worse-than-expected negative momentum mainly due to softness in Google Play activity. On the premium side, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga led the aggregate chart. It’s the first game to dethrone Elden Ring since February, which remained at the second spot just ahead of MLB The Show 22. As opposed to last month’s bevy of new games hitting the charts, April’s overall software list only featured two new entries.

Performance within the Hardware segment was split depending on the metric being used. Nintendo Switch topped April’s console sales when using units, a metric by which it’s also the year’s best-seller so far. Just like back in March. As a result of this consistency, Switch passed PlayStation 4 on the all-time best-selling home console list. It’s now in fourth place behind only PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s own Wii.

However when using dollar sales as the measure, PlayStation 5 took home the win in April. Sony was finally able to secure enough inventory to move up the ranks, though Xbox Series X|S is still 2022’s top-selling hardware by dollars right now.

“Despite a nice hardware bump, the market couldn’t get back to growth as content and accessories lagged,” said The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella. “Perhaps we’ll see some benefit from that hardware lift next month. In any case, [the] market remains well above pre-pandemic baseline.”

Long-time readers know I like to maintain perspective when writing about monthly or even quarterly sales. Seeing a decline since prior year isn’t necessarily substantial news or a sky-is-falling scenario. The consecutive months on this negative trajectory are representative of a few things, then of course there’s those pockets of positivity for individual games and consoles.

First, quarantining bolstered sales substantially the past couple years. Easing restrictions and some semblance of normalcy means a certain level of reversion is expected. Then there’s retail supply, still hampered by a semiconductor shortage and manufacturing woes. Finally there’s the distressing and growing impact from inflation, which is painful for most folks and can hamstring discretionary purchasing decisions.

Keeping this context in mind, I’ll move into my complete analysis and a detailed rundown of April’s results.

United States Games Industry Sales (April 3rd, 2022 – April 30th, 2022)

As displayed in the above gallery, total consumer spending during April fell 8% to $4.34 billion. That means annual spend to date is also down 8%, to $18.26 billion.

I think the most telling graphic here is the line chart showing spending over time for each of the past four years. It gives clear context on pandemic impact and how the current level compares to earlier periods. For instance, until last month, each month of 2022 was trending above the corresponding one during these years except 2021. This past April’s spending is the lowest April has been in three years, but not by much.

The largest category of Content includes software, add-on, mobile and subscriptions. Spending here lowered 10% to $3.84 billion. That means it comprised more than 88% of April’s total.

The key driver within this part is mobile, which has been in a downward trajectory for months. Normally the report says when it exceeds $2 billion, and it didn’t this time. So I assume it’s below that threshold. Even so, select titles are showing strength which implies people are still playing, albeit spending at a lower clip. Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Coin Master, Evony: The King’s Return and Royal Match were the top earners.

Moving into premium titles, the aforementioned Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga led the rankings overall and every single individual platform chart as well. Including Nintendo Switch, as it was the first third-party title to top that chart since Monster Hunter Rise in March of last year. This performance across platforms led to the adventure title from Warner Bros. achieving the single best launch month dollar sales for any Lego game in tracked history. It’s immediately the second best-selling title of 2022 at present, behind only Elden Ring.

Speaking of Elden Ring, it was number two on the overall chart in April. Into its third month on market and it’s already achieved an astonishing accomplishment: The open-world soulslike has now outsold November 2021’s Call of Duty: Vanguard in the U.S., making Elden Ring the top-selling premium game of the last 12 months. This is virtually unheard of in the States, where Activision Blizzard’s military shooter perennially dominates sales charts. It’s a combination of relative weakness in Call of Duty lately and the stunning quality of FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece, which reached 13.4 million units globally in March according to publisher Bandai Namco. It’s even more by now, the true definition of a sales giant.

After an early access period led MLB The Show 22 to #4 in March, it advanced up to the third spot in April and moved up to 5th on the year’s best-sellers list after debuting outside the Top 10. While this performance isn’t as high as last year’s entry, which led its initial month, it’s still a quality showing. Intriguingly, it didn’t appear in the Top 10 on Xbox yet from an engagement standpoint, Xbox is its leading platform by player count. It’s a clear display of the Xbox Game Pass effect, as this year’s title was again available on the service at launch. It’s also worth noting this report doesn’t include digital sales from Xbox for this particular title, which of course impacts platform ranks.

The last new release on the overall chart was Nintendo Switch Sports, which really had only two days on sale during this time period. It still scored an impressive fifth place on the overall chart. Within the Nintendo list individually, it ranked third behind Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It’s another title, like all of those published by Nintendo, that doesn’t account for digital downloads. May’s result will give a better indication, as I expect it to be quite successful.

That covers the new releases, and most other movement on the charts featured familiar names from the prior month. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is holding strong, as is Horizon Forbidden West. Then there’s Mario Kart 8 which will never, ever stop selling. Most of the year’s Top 10 is the same save for the entry of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Check below for a full look at April’s ranks plus 2022 so far.

Top-Selling Games of April 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  2. Elden Ring
  3. MLB The Show 22^
  4. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  5. Nintendo Switch Sports*
  6. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  7. Horizon Forbidden West
  8. Mario Kart 8*
  9. Gran Turismo 7
  10. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  11. Minecraft
  12. FIFA 22
  13. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  14. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  15. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  16. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  17. WWE 2K22*
  18. Mario Party Superstars*
  19. Madden NFL 22
  20. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands*

Top-Selling Games of 2022 So Far, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. MLB The Show 22^
  6. Gran Turismo 7
  7. Call of Duty: Vanguard*
  8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
  9. Madden NFL 22
  10. Mario Kart 8*
  11. FIFA 22
  12. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  13. Minecraft
  14. Dying Light 2: Stay Human*
  15. Monster Hunter Rise
  16. Mario Party Superstars*
  17. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  18. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  19. WWE 2K22*
  20. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Hardware was the main bright spot of April from a growth standpoint, boosting up 16% since last year to $343 million. Even so, it’s still down for the first four months of the year in aggregate. Sales of consoles year-to-date reached $1.54 billion, or 9% lower than the same period in 2021.

This April figure is somewhat reassuring, considering spending on this segment declined 30% this time last year. It indicates better availability, at least for certain platforms as The NPD Group called out PlayStation and Xbox increasing supply. This year has been a wild one for hardware; a different console has led each of the first three months. Demand is thriving, so consumers are buying whenever inventories pop up. Something like the Xbox Series S in particular is proving attractive because of its price point.

Still, it was actually the PlayStation 5 that showed up in April. Sony’s massive new console led last month on dollars generated as more stock hit shelves, a similar story as other regions including Europe based on data from local providers. Other than January, which was the last time PlayStation 5 topped the list, it’s been a somewhat dry year for Sony and its supply chain. As I wrote just this week, the company announced the platform passed 19.3 million units shipped globally and is now lagging its predecessor considerably.

Not to be overlooked, Nintendo Switch was April’s best seller by units. It’s the same for 2022 to date as Nintendo’s hybrid console continues to attract interest going into its sixth year on sale. In the States, lifetime Switch sales have now outpaced PlayStation 4 to become the fourth best-selling home console of all time. PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, in that order, are the only home platforms with more units sold domestically.

Xbox Series X|S rounds out this category as it secured second place during April by both dollar and unit sales. Similar to March, Microsoft’s family of devices is currently the year’s best seller by dollar sales. Microsoft has been most consistent on the production side, plus of course benefits from higher average revenue per unit for the premium Xbox Series X model.

I know that’s a lot to digest for hardware, since the report includes multiple metrics. Suffice to say there are at least minor indications of greater supply popping up, however it’s not yet a trend until it keeps happening. We still need to closely monitor the semiconductor shortage and input costs to see if it becomes an upward trend in overall supply movement, rather than one-off monthly spikes.

The third and final category of Accessories unfortunately didn’t track alongside hardware in April, instead showing some weakness compared to a year back. Monthly spending here fell 10% to $151 million. It’s currently the only segment in a double-digit decline for the year as a whole, moving down 15% to $743 million.

In a shocking upset, the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 Wireless controller in black was April’s best-selling accessory. You read that correctly. That’s last generation’s PlayStation game pad leading a month in the second year of this current console cycle. Perhaps there were discounts leading to this upside? Though this report is mostly based on dollar sales, so there has to be some sort of advantageous average selling price for Sony in order for it to win.

I can’t remember the last time a PlayStation 4 game pad led the category.

Expanding a bit, the Xbox Elite Series 2 wireless controller, which has led all months except this past one, is still the best-selling accessory for the year right now. As it has all year, bolstered by its extravagant price tag.

Lately, it’s proving difficult for spending on games to keep pace with the highs of recent years. Especially early last year, which saw months of historic highs. Six months of monthly declines and we’re seeing this movement away from the ballooning amounts of spending during the pandemic due to restrictions of going out plus stimulus money at the time.

Softening is expected right now, even if it’s challenging to report on a downward trend. It’s just a matter of magnitude as spending normalizes, plus buyers face inflation pressure for essential goods which limits additional cash flow. There’s also the allure of spending on different types of entertainment as more people get out of the house in which they’ve been cooped for a while.

“We’ve also seen an extended run of months showing year-on-year declines,” Piscatella wrote. “[The] video game market is facing a return to experiential spending as well as higher prices in other areas of consumer spend. Tough combo. Will require the bigger games to really pull the market.”

On those AAA projects, the latest news cycle revealed how 2022 is shaping up to be another year of delays. Starfield. Redfall. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The next The Legend of Zelda mainline entry. Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl is on hold due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And I’m not sold on God of War: Ragnarok hitting this calendar year, as I’ve said many a time on social media.

Focusing strictly on the potential for May’s monthly report, it’s a very light month for new software that isn’t a remake, re-release or indie launch. I’m expecting another month of spending declines, except perhaps for consoles. Evil Dead: The Game and Sniper Elite 5 are probably the highest profile releases on the calendar. I’m not sure the Top 10 will have any new entries, let alone the Top 5.

Which means it’s a major opportunity for carryover titles to promote new content or have events that keep players buying. This ties in with the subscription play, a staple in Microsoft’s suite of course and Sony’s strategy with its PlayStation Plus reworking starting in June. Games like MLB The Show 22 and Nintendo Switch Sports will have a lot more days on sale than last month. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has a good chance at leading again, as does Elden Ring. I’m not the most upbeat on Call of Duty: Vanguard right now, but it will certainly secure a solid position.

My best guess is Elden Ring returns to number one. With the caveat that if Nintendo included digital, I’d probably bet on Nintendo Switch Sports.

As for Hardware, throw a dart at the wall and take a guess. Xbox Series X|S on dollars. Nintendo Switch again on units. Those are my dartboard guesses, at least.

Now that I’ve come to the end of this month’s coverage, I highly recommend perusing Piscatella’s Twitter thread for more details on platform rankings and additional commentary.

It’s been a supremely busy week for the games industry and business nerds. I’m both exhilarated and exhausted. I hope you enjoyed the articles, I plan to have more in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading. Until next time, be well!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox Digital Sales Note Included

Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise noted.

Sources: Bandai Namco, The NPD Group, Warner Bros Interactive.

-Dom

Xbox Series X|S & Elden Ring Show Strength in March 2022 During Another Month of U.S. Game Sales Declines

That’s another first quarter in the books. Congratulations, all. You made it!

In celebration, industry tracking firm The NPD Group gave everyone an early present this week as its March U.S. games spending report was originally slated for release on Tuesday. It was a Monday surprise! I’m a bit late in covering it because WordPress Issues, but I’m here now and ready to rock. And since it’s a March month, that means we have a whole quarter of data to peruse.

Now, the headline seems drearier than it is. Yes, domestic consumer spending on video games declined in March, marking the fifth straight month of lower sales. All three categories saw double-digit dips. Do you remember where spending was at this time last year? All-time highs for a March month, that’s where.

According to this latest report, consumer spending across Video Game Content, Hardware and Accessories declined 15% in March to just under $4.9 billion. That’s down from a record-breaking March of $5.69 billion in 2021. Essentially, this past month was in-line with the first phase of the pandemic. To help with context in gaming, that’s when everyone was playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Everything in context!

While all categories moved down in March, the broadest of Content (software, mobile, add-ons, subscriptions etc) showed the most resilience down only 13%. This is partially due to a lower mobile contribution. Within premium software, the beast that is Elden Ring beat out a slew of new titles to snag its second straight monthly win atop the overall chart. Launches of Gran Turismo 7, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, MLB The Show 22, WWE 2K22 and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin all sold well enough to be in the Top 10 last month.

Hardware as a segment experienced the most precipitous decline on a percentage basis, down 24%. Xbox Series X|S secured its spot as best-selling console of March measured by dollars. Why? Well, because it was more available to buy. Especially the entry level Series S design is popping up more frequently at retail. Not only was the family of devices the month’s top seller, it also generated the highest dollar sales of any console during the first quarter.

“Consumers [are] returning to experiential spending, and perhaps even pressures from higher prices in other areas, may now be impacting video games,” wrote The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella on Twitter. “Continued supply constraints in hardware aren’t helping.”

Manufacturers and suppliers on the hardware side are doing as much as they can to produce as many boxes as possible, given those constraints. Though it’s still not enough to satiate demand at this stage. Software publishers are seeing the impact of more normalized, plus less discretionary, spending in this inflationary environment. Notably within mobile. So, a lack of growth isn’t a doomsday indicator. It’s more a reversion, dampened by higher prices for companies and individuals.

Moving into the fun stuff. The numbers, of course!

United States Games Industry Sales (February 27th, 2022 – April 2nd, 2022)

Beginning with the overall figure I referenced earlier, total consumer spending on the games industry declined 15% to $4.85 billion during March. When expanding to the first three months of 2022, it’s $13.92 billion or 8% lower than the corresponding period before.

I’ll cover Video Game Content first. During March, spend on Content dipped 13% to $4.11 billion. Which means this category currently makes up around 85% of monthly spending.

There’s clear downward pressure from mobile, which saw 12% lower spending last month than in March 2021. This includes a 25% decline in Google Play games revenue, whereas Apple’s App Store purchasing came down only slightly. Even considering this impact from March, mobile spending declined less than 10% for the quarter. Top earners for mobile in the month were Candy Crush Saga, Roblox, Coin Master, Garena Free Fire and Genshin Impact.

“U.S. mobile game spending continues to considerably outpace our pre-pandemic projections,” noted the report. “Although signs of the space cooling off as consumers return to in-person occupations and spend more time on other pursuits outside the home are showing.”

When it came to premium software, the story was new games hitting market before fiscal year end for many publishers. It was a busy month where seven of the Top 12 sellers on the combined chart were brand new games. Three of those were among the Top 5.

March’s best earner Elden Ring is technically not one of those new releases since it had all of two days in February’s report. Those alone propelled FromSoftware’s latest to first at the time. Now a double-digit sales increase during March helped it secure the win again. The soulslike open world was the highest seller on all its available platforms, it’s still the best-selling of 2022 to date and second to only Call of Duty: Vanguard over the last 12 months. The Tarnished may be “maidenless,” yet they are certainly makin’ more.

Finishing in second place during March was PlayStation exclusive Gran Turismo 7. The racing sim entry from Sony’s Polyphony Digital accelerated to the best launch month in Gran Turismo franchise history when measured by dollar sales. (I have a note out to NPD Group to confirm the prior record.) It’s also immediately fourth on 2022’s top sellers so far. As a quick comparison, its predecessor didn’t chart. With the caveat it was a holiday release in December 2013.

Quite literally rounding out the Top 3 was Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Keep in mind Nintendo doesn’t include digital portion for its Switch games. While NPD Group didn’t share much in the way of comparison to prior Kirby games, I would wager it had the best launch month ever. I ran some quick checks on rankings. Switch title Kirby Star Allies debuted at #4 in March 2018 while Nintendo 3DS entry Kirby: Planet Robobot didn’t hit the Top 10 during June 2016. When Nintendo reports its annual earnings in a couple weeks, I fully expect the Switch effect to boost Kirby and the Forgotten Land to fastest-selling in the franchise. Sorry if that was a mouthful!

Fourth place in March was the curious case of MLB The Show 22. I say that because looks can be deceiving. Last year’s entry was the top-selling of April 2021, setting an all-time franchise record after becoming a multi-platform release also available day one on Xbox Game Pass. Now, this year’s initial rank only accounts for certain special editions offering an early access phase. Next month’s report will tell the full story; I expect it to be a good one.

Wrapping up other new releases, 2K Games’ WWE 2K22 wrestled to #7 after taking a year off. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and Ghostwire Tokyo secured 10th through 12th place respectively. Lastly, Triangle Strategy landed just outside the Top 15. Note some of these also have the “no digital” caveat. The list below has specifics.

My final observation on the software side from March is how four games outsold Call of Duty: Vanguard in the first quarter of 2022. It’s another indicator of lagging premium Call of Duty sales, echoed in this week’s quarterly financials from Activision Blizzard which I covered on social media.

Here goes the full software charts for March and Q1 2022.

Top-Selling Games of March 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Gran Turismo 7
  3. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  4. MLB The Show 22#
  5. Horizon Forbidden West
  6. Pokémon Legends Arceus*
  7. WWE 2K22*
  8. Mario Kart 8*
  9. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  10. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
  11. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands*
  12. Ghostwire Tokyo
  13. FIFA 22
  14. Minecraft
  15. Madden NFL 22
  16. Triangle Strategy*
  17. Mario Party Superstars*
  18. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  19. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  20. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Top-Selling Games of Q1 2022, U.S., All Platforms (Physical & Digital Dollar Sales):

  1. Elden Ring
  2. Pokémon Legends Arceus*
  3. Horizon Forbidden West
  4. Gran Turismo 7
  5. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  6. Madden NFL 22
  7. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
  8. Mario Kart 8*
  9. Dying Light 2 Stay Human*
  10. FIFA 22
  11. MLB The Show 22#
  12. Monster Hunter Rise
  13. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  14. Minecraft
  15. Mario Party Superstars*
  16. God of War 2018
  17. Total War: Warhammer III
  18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  19. WWE 2K22*
  20. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*

Shifting focus to Video Game Hardware, this segment saw $515 million in spending within March. That’s 24% lower than the record-breaking $680 million last year, which was the highest March hardware result since way back in 2008. You know, the time of the Nintendo Wii.

Again, context!

When looking at the first quarter, hardware sales dipped 15% to exactly $1.2 billion. It’s solid compared to last year’s highs, and not too shabby considering it was under $800 million back in Q1 2020 towards the end of last generation of course.

During March, Xbox Series X|S achieved that top-selling status within hardware using dollars generated as the metric. Microsoft’s current devices experienced the best March monthly sales in the tracked history of the Xbox brand, by both units and dollars spent. Prior to this, March 2011 and March 2014 were all-time bests for units and dollars, respectively.

This monthly win in March bolstered Xbox Series X|S to becoming the best-selling platform during the first three months of 2022.

It’s worth nothing that when accounting for units sold as the measure, Nintendo Switch led for March and Q1.

Want proof that whichever console maker can produce the most will win a given month? When using dollar sales, each month of 2022 so far has been led by a different platform. PlayStation 5 secured January, Nintendo Switch topped February and now Xbox Series X|S won out in March. This says, as much as anything, that supply is fluctuating month to month or even week to week. Whoever pushes the most inventory will likely be crowned victor. Temporarily, of course.

Still, it’s unclear that even with recent supply spurts, hardware output isn’t matching ongoing demand from consumers.

“Xbox had a big month due to having supply that could help meet some of the demand,” said Piscatella. “Supply [is] still an issue in hardware.”

The last category of March’s monthly report is Video Game Accessories. This paralleled almost perfectly with Hardware as consumer spending declined 23% to $227 million. This same month last year, the $300 million generated on accessories was a March record. Effectively, this particular segment is back to March 2020 levels.

When taking into account the first three months of 2022, sales on accessories moved down 16% to $592 million.

As it has all year, Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 controller was the heavy hitter. This top-end game pad was March’s best-selling accessory, making it the top seller for Q1 as well. There’s not much more color digging into this particular segment from March’s data.

As I alluded before, March spending declines aren’t doom and gloom. At all. It’s a natural movement back towards more normalized amounts, especially for something like mobile. There’s also the impact of rampant inflation causing more essential spending to take precedent for many households.

A monthly report like this really displays the impact of mobile within Content. First quarter premium releases are doing quite well at least alongside historical counterparts, illustrated by the likes of Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, Pokémon Legends Arceus plus that wide swath of March launches stacking up the charts.

It sounds like a broken record, I know. Gaming hardware goes as inventories do, seeing as there are plenty of buyers when consoles do hit stores or online channels. The upside is clearly limited in the foreseeable future. Each moth a different platform shines, though Xbox did so brightly enough in March to push past the others when aggregating Q1.

Then, what about this month of April?

Well, it’s certainly not going to be as eventful as this report on the premium software side. There are fewer blockbuster games in April’s slate. Nintendo Switch Sports is a headliner that will be massive on Switch, even if it’s out very late in the month. I’m incredibly upbeat on Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga after Warner Bros. Games revealed it’s already shipped 3.2 million copies globally.

I expect various games from first quarter to compete in April, notably Elden Ring yet again and MLB The Show 22 after the strength of a full launch. I’ll predict here that Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga takes it home and Nintendo Switch Sports scores a Top 3 finish.

Hardware is, again, anyone’s guess. Personally, my best guess is Nintendo Switch on both dollars and units mainly due to that sports boost. Folks will be partying like granny and the fam playing Wii Sports bowling back in ’06!

We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, I recommend reading Piscatella’s thread for details directly form the source. Thanks for stopping by the site, be safe and well. Take care for now!

*Digital Sales Not Included, ^Xbox Digital Sales Note Included, #Includes on the MVP Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition

Comparisons are year-over-year unless otherwise noted.

Sources: The NPD Group, Newsweek (Image Credit), NY Times (Image Credit), Warner Bros. Games.

-Dom