NPD: Video Game Sales Decline for Seventh Straight Month

Video game sales in February dropped 29% to $755 million from $1.06 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group. Notably, the decline wasn’t just associated to hardware as console manufacturers ready next-generation device launches for the winter holidays.

Sales of new game software titles plummeted 36% to $307 million from $480 million last year. Hardware fell 34% to $183 million from $277 million.

As has been the case for the past year, Nintendo Switch was again the console sales leader in unit and dollar terms despite being down from last year. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the best-selling accessory.

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In a social media post, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said the results were expected and indicative of ongoing industry trends.

“Lack of new releases always hurts, and the late cycle dynamics we’re seeing on hardware are what they are,” Piscatella tweeted. “Ring Fit Adventure [Nintendo] continues to climb, we’ll have to see if inventory challenges appear in the coming months.”

Other top-selling titles included No. 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision); NBA 2K20 and Grand Theft Auto V (Take-Two); Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (Bandai Namco); Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (Ubisoft Entertainment); Mario Kart 8 and Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo); Madden NFL 20 (Electronic Arts); Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo) and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (EA).

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30th Anniversary Blu-ray of ‘The Wizard’ Due March 24

Shout! Factory will release The Wizard: Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray Disc through the Shout Select premium imprint March 24, 2020.

The 1989 film tells the story of young Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards), who runs away to California with his brother, Corey (Fred Savage), while being pursued by their father (Beau Bridges) and older brother (Christian Slater). Along the way they encounter street-smart teen Haley (Jenny Lewis), and discover Jimmy’s hidden talent for video games, leading them to enroll in a tournament at Universal Studios.

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The two-disc collector’s edition includes a new 4K scan of the film and new bonus features, including an audio commentary from director Todd Holland and never-before-released deleted scenes.

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Featurettes include “The Road to Cali-forn-ia,” a retrospective with new interviews from Holland Savage and Edwards, writer-producer David Chisholm, producer Ken Topolsky and more; “How Can I Help You? Confessions of a Game Play Counselor”; “A Clinical Analysis of The Wizard”; and a post-screening Q&A from the Let’s Play Gaming Expo 2019 with Edwards, Chisholm and Topolsky.

The set also includes trailers and a photo gallery.

 

Nintendo Switch Game Console Tops 15 Million Unit Sales in North America

Nintendo continues to spearhead the sluggish North American video game industry as market rivals Microsoft and Sony ready next-generation consoles launches a year from now.

Nintendo Oct. 17 disclosed it has sold 15 million Switch and Switch Lite consoles in North America since the device’s bow in 2017. The console has sold another 10 million units in Europe, which combined reportedly top PlayStation 4 console sales.

The Japanese hardware manufacturer’s Switch platform has led The NPD Group’s monthly game market research data for more than 10 straight months.

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The company said Switch titles have average more than 1 million unit sales each, including four that have surpassed have surpassed 6 million unit sales: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

 

Nintendo Switch Lite Launches

Nintendo has launched Nintendo Switch Lite, which is cheaper and lighter than the original Switch, as well as a new Switch game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

“The introduction of Nintendo Switch Lite gives people the choice of a Nintendo Switch system that best fits their needs and personal play style,” said Nick Chavez, Nintendo of America’s SVP of sales and marketing. “With the simultaneous launch of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, today is a great day for newcomers and existing Nintendo Switch owners alike.”

A lightweight device with integrated controls designed specifically to play Nintendo Switch games that support Handheld mode, Nintendo Switch Lite is available in three colors: yellow, grey and turquoise. Available at $199.99, the system has integrated controls and is smaller than the original version. The original Nintendo Switch, which offers TV mode and Tabletop mode, in addition to Handheld mode, retails at $299.99.

As a dedicated handheld gaming device, Nintendo Switch Lite supports all Nintendo Switch software that can be played in Handheld mode. It’s designed for consumers who have lots of opportunities to play on the go, and for anyone who wants to play online via Nintendo Switch Online (sold separately) or local wireless multiplayer with friends or family who already own a Nintendo Switch system.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which can be played on any system in the Nintendo Switch family, is available at $59.99.

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In the new Chamber Dungeon mode, players earn Chambers (dungeon rooms) throughout the story and arrange them to complete objectives. Launching alongside the game is a new Link amiibo figure. By using this figure, players can unlock Shadow Link in the Chamber Dungeon.

Also launching is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure, a reimagining of one of the games in the series. Link has washed ashore on a mysterious island, filled with strange and colorful inhabitants. To return home, Link must explore a reimagined Koholint Island that’s been faithfully rebuilt in a new art style. Along the way, he will battle enemies and conquer numerous dungeons riddled with tricks, traps and enemies, including some from the “Super Mario” series.

Nintendo Offering 12-Month Switch Online Membership with ‘Tetris 99’ Game

Nintendo Switch device owners can now pick up a new bundle at select retailers that includes the Tetris 99 game and a 12-month membership to Nintendo Switch Online at $29.99 SRP.

Launched last year as competition to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, the standalone Switch Online membership is normally $19.99, which includes access to multiplayer games, catalog of NES and SNES games and cloud storage, among other features.

Nintendo Switch Online members also gain access to a smartphone app that enhances features of supported games.

In Tetris 99 “battle” mode, players can take part in 99-player battles, competing to be the last person standing. Players who are more traditionalists can see how long they’ll last offline in the single-player “marathon” mode.

While offline, players can take on 98 CPU players, pass a Joy-Con controller to a friend for a two-player game against each other and CPU opponents on one Nintendo Switch system or face off with up to seven other players who have their own systems and games via local wireless connection.

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NPD: June Video Game Sales Declined 13%

Anticipation of new hardware in 2020 continues to undermine the video game industry in 2019.

New data from The NPD Ground found that total industry sales dropped 13% in June to $959 million compared to $1.1 billion the previous-year period.

Hardware revenue plummeted 33% to $235 million, while software dipped 1% to $386 million and accessories fell 7% to $338 million. Half-year revenue is down 4% to $5.6 billion.

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Lone bright spot: Nintendo Switch, which saw the highest monthly sales and continue to deliver year-over-year growth.

Top-selling titles in June included: Super Mario Maker 2, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled and Mortal Kombat 11, which remains the top-selling title of year.

Other top-selling titles included: Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft; Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Marvel’s Spider-Man, NBA 2K19, Mario Kart 8 and Days Gone.

Google Set to Reveal Video Game Streaming Service

As online gaming grows (and disc-based video games decline), tech/media giants such as Google and Apple are eyeing the $100 billion industry for new cloud-based streaming platforms.

Google is reportedly set to disclose a streaming platform March 19 offering high-end games across all platforms, including Android, iPhone, Mac, Chrome, Windows 10 and TVs at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The search behemoth teased a YouTube video about it.

The company, which would enable users to buy games directly from the TV screen or portable media device, will also unveil a gaming controller (and possibly a console) that could be used with a smart TV.

The move comes as the gaming industry – dominated by Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo – grapple with changing consumer habits and distribution revolving around their longstanding gaming consoles.

Google’s service could enable users to play top games without having to buy an expensive console.

“Cloud gaming will enable publishers to broaden their reach even further by potentially taping into new audiences on any device and any screen,” Thomas Husson, analyst with Forrester Research, told CNBC. “Beyond music or video, gaming represents another opportunity to offer recurring streaming revenue for companies in the gaming ecosystem. For cloud platforms like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, it will also become an opportunity to offer cloud storage and services to game publishers, who spend more and more in their IT infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Outranks Netflix and Amazon Prime in Brand Study

Disney ranked No. 1 followed by Amazon Prime and Netflix in the media and entertainment industry portion of MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study.

The study is the largest study of brands based on emotions, according to the company.

Disney rose in the ranking from fifth overall in the 2018 study to first this year.

The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the media & entertainment industry were, in order, PlayStation, YouTube, Xbox, Nintendo, Hulu, HBO and WWE.

MBLM defines Brand Intimacy as “the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.” Top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study.

“Media & entertainment continues to be our most intimate industry,” Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, said in a statement. “The need to escape reality, consume content on demand, and lose ourselves in stories is a powerful combination of factors. Disney is leveraging its nostalgic associations to cultivate stronger bonds with customers. It has also improved its performance with men, while continuing to innovate and expand its offerings.”

Additional findings in the media and entertainment industry were:

  • Disney was the No. 1 brand with both men and women as well respondents aged 45-64;
  • Disney was also the top brand for people making over $100,000;
  • YouTube ranked first for millennials;
  • YouTube also ranked first for those making $35,000-$50,000; and
  • Media and entertainment was also the No. 1 industry for millennials.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Study is based on the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the UAE. To view the media & entertainment industry findings, please click here. To download the full Brand Intimacy 2019 Study or explore the Data Dashboard click here.

Video Game Industry Eyes Direct-to-Consumer Rewards — and Risks

Taking a cue from the subscription streaming video-on-demand ecosystem, the video game industry has quietly begun offering content to consumers online rather than solely through packaged-media retailers such as GameStop, Best Buy and Target.

Last May game publisher Electronic Arts acquired the cloud gaming technology assets and personnel of a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly — the online packaged-media rental service that also offers movies and TV shows.

Specifically, EA aims to distribute its games to consumers online without paying license fees to third-party game platforms such as Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo. At last year’s at annual E3 gaming confab, EA bowed a prototype subscription online gaming platforms EA Access and Origin Access.

“Cloud gaming is an exciting frontier that will help us to give even more players the ability to experience games on any device from anywhere,” Ken Moss, chief technology officer at Electronic Arts, said at the time.

Sony, whose five-year-old subscription gaming service – PlayStation Now – features hundreds of catalog games for $99 annual fee, is reportedly considering direct-to-access for new releases following its purchases of online platforms Gaikai and OnLive.

“The greatest disruption of entertainment is the combination of streaming and subscription,” Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, told Fortune. “More people are engaging, with less friction, through cloud-driven services.”

At the same time, offering consumers online access to hundreds of games for annual or monthly fees (the latter without contract) threatens an established retail market where game publishers often charge and get more than $50 for a single game.

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“I do believe that some subscribers might cancel after finishing the newest game they wanted to play, but the vast majority will keep their subscription because of the online multiplayer component of those same games,” said Greg Potter, an analyst with Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. “Publishers are okay with this model because hit games often have multiple revenue streams other than the purchase at the point-of-sale.”

Indeed, the gaming industry saw revenue reach record $43.8 billion in 2018, up 18% from 2017. That figure dwarfed the global box and SVOD markets.

The latter has Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worried.

In the SVOD pioneer’s recent shareholder letter, Hastings said Netflix controlled about 10% of domestic TV screen time – a tally he said is under threat more from online gaming than other SVOD competitors.

“We compete with and lose to [online gaming service] ​Fortnite ​more than HBO Now,” Hastings wrote. “When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time. Hulu is small compared to YouTube for viewing time. Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon [Prime Video] or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members.”

 

 

Nintendo Switch Fastest-Selling Game System of Its Generation

Nintendo announced that the Nintendo Switch has become the fastest-selling video game system of this hardware generation in its first 21 months of release, citing data from The NPD Group.

NPD tracks video game sales in the United States.

From its launch in March 2017 through November 2018, Nintendo Switch has sold more than 8.7 million units, outpacing U.S. sales of all other current-generation systems at the same point in their life cycles, according to Nintendo, citing NPD data.

Nintendo is also the overall top-selling U.S. software publisher so far for 2018, according to NPD data through November, the company stated.

The December release of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game has become not only the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time, but also the fastest-selling game in the “Super Smash Bros.” series, with U.S. sales of more than 3 million units in just 11 days, according to Nintendo’s internal sales data.

“We are thrilled to see such a strong reaction from consumers in the second holiday season for Nintendo Switch,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s SVP of sales and marketing, in a statement. “We’re looking forward to delivering more excitement and smiles to our fans in the coming year and beyond.”

U.S. hardware unit and dollar sales for 2018 are at their highest annual totals since 2011, according to Nintendo, with Nintendo eShop sales growing 105% from 2017.