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NPD January: Stats on the State of Gaming

game numbersPost holiday sales notwithstanding January is typically a soft period for the retail industry when compared to the results November and December holiday rush.  The monthly NPD numbers released last week, showed the skyrocketing returns for the gaming industry weren’t immune.  Hardware sales, in particular, were off but overall, there was plenty of value to be mined from the latest monthly results report from NPD.

Total U.S gaming sales were $1.18b in January, a 6% drop versus the same period a year ago (though that has largely been attributed to an extra week of reporting included in last year’s tally).  Taking into account the calendar adjustments, NPD notes that sales were up about 18% on a week by week accounting.

In Hardware, monthly totals were off 25% to $377.8m. The Nintendo Wii remained the Top selling console (274k  units) but in a major change, Sony took the 2nd position with the PS3 (269k).  Sony took that as opportunity to declare a victory and said in a statement “the PlayStation brand generated the most U.S. retail dollars in the industry with $486 million, 25% higher than Nintendo and 61% higher than Microsoft.” 

Microsoft, which finished 3rd among the consoles, attributed their shortfall to supply issues.  Xbox marketing head Jeff Bell told Reuters that they “misjudged” demand.  That mistake, he suggested, could help Sony’s platform outsell his for the next few months.

In software, sales were up 11% to $610.6m.  Appropriately following stellar results, Activision had the top spot in titles with Call of Duty 4.  Guitar Hero III also featured prominently in the top 10.  The average retail price of games was up 19% over last year, largely from the success of music games that come bundled with specialty controllers (Guitar Hero and Rock Band).

Most analysts commenting were largely pleased with the results even if the drop in hardware results was somewhat unexpected.  As inventory adjusts from the holiday rush (Nintendo and Microsoft pushed for strong holiday sales but, in consequence, have less than ideal supply now) it will be interesting to see how the consoles position in the market stacks up.  The victory of Blu  Ray over HD DVD triggered by Warner Brothers may finally bring some value to the PS3.  On the other hand, the lack of a true console exclusive title may continue to be a ball and chain around their collective ankles.

The January numbers:

January Hardware Sales (in units sold) (December Results)
•Wii: 274,000 (1.35m)
•PlayStation 3: 269,000 (797.6k)
•Nintendo DS: 251,000 (2.47m)
•PlayStation Portable: 230,000 (1.06m)
•Xbox 360: 230,000 (1.26m)

January  Software (Title.Platform.Publisher) (Units)
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (360, Activision) – 331,000
2. Wii Play with Wii Remote (Wii, Nintendo) – 298,000
3. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii, Activision) – 240,000
4. Rock Band (Xbox 360, MTV Games) – 184,000
5. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Xbox 360, Activision) – 183,000
6. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo) – 172,000
7. Burnout Paradise (Xbox 360, EA) – 144,000
8. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (PS3, Activision) – 140,000
9. Mario Party DS (DS, Nintendo) – 139,000
10. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS, Sega) – 133,000


Overall Result  (Total / % Change)
Video Games: $1.18 billion -6%
Video Games Hardware: $378 million -25%
Video Games Software: $550 million +11%
Video Game Accessories: $191 million -4%
Total Sales Per Week: $295 million +18%


For comparative data, NPD’s data from the past few months can be found by clicking the names of the month as follows:
•February •March •April •May •June •July •August •September •OctoberNovember December


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