NPD: Video Game Sales Fall for Sixth Consecutive Month

A lack of new-generation video game platforms again undermines software sales with January totals (from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1) down for the sixth straight month, according to The NPD Group.

With both Microsoft and Sony promising new consoles by the winter holidays, consumers have held off acquiring titles and hardware. In addition, increasing numbers of gamers are playing online further impacting the transactional side of the business.

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Total revenue in January fell 26% to $678 million, from $918 million in the previous-year period. Accessories and game cards revenue declined almost 12% to $238 million, from $268 million in the previous-year period.

Hardware revenue fell 35% to $129 million from $199 million with sales again driven largely by Nintendo Switch — as was the situation in 2019.

Software revenue plummeted 31% to $311 million, from $451 million last year.

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“Generally, we are very late into the cycle for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles … although we are in line with January 2016 and January 2017 comps,” analyst Mat Piscatella said on a video blog post.

Piscatella said the software decline was expected in part due to the strong year-ago new releases of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2, among other high-profile titles.

“So, it was a pretty jam-packed January [2019] slate,” he said.

Notable software seller: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which was the third-highest launch sales in franchise history. Other top sellers included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V.


NPD: Consumers Viewed 20 Minutes More Streamed Content Weekly on Netflix Last Year Than in 2018

Consumers watched about 20 minutes more streamed TV content per week on Netflix in 2019 than they did in 2018, according to research from The NPD Group.

Weekly time spent watching the Netflix and Hulu SVOD services rose 7%, growing from 3 hours and 45 minutes in 2018 to 4 hours and 6 minutes in 2019, according to NPD.

Even with new subscription video services launching, audiences are still finding content they want to watch on the major SVOD services they already have. In fact, 99.5 percent of consumers with subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu viewed at least one title in a given month in 2019.

“When people try new services, like Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus, very few are cutting back on the existing major platforms,” said Kathi Chandler-Payatt, NPD media entertainment industry analyst, in a statement.

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Original TV shows on Netflix made up more than 40% of all content watched by either kids or adults, compared to just 10% for Hulu Originals.

“This year will likely be the tipping point when more than half of Netflix content will be original,” Chandler-Payatt said in a statement.

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While action and adventure, family, animation and superhero movies are some of the top SVOD movie genres every year, in 2019 viewers added science-fiction dramas, courtroom dramas, and cyberpunk among other subgenres to the mix. Examples include “Annihilation” (sci-fi drama), “Primal Fear” (courtroom drama), and “The Matrix” trilogy (cyberpunk).

NPD: December Video Game Sales Fell 15%

As expected, sluggish video game sales declined for the fifth straight month, falling 15% to $2.98 billion from $3.5 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Hardware sales fell 17%, to $973 million from $1.17 billion. Software dropped 13% $1.14 billion from $1.31 billion. Accessories and game cards dropped 14% to $869 million from $1.01 billion.

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Overall, spending fell 13% to $14.6 billion from $16.78 billion. A dearth of new gaming consoles contributed to hardware sales plummeting 22% to $3.9 billion from $4.43 billion; software dropped 9% to $6.6 billion, compared to $7.25 billion; and accessories/game cards dropped 7% to $4.1 billion from $4.4 billion.

As has been the situation all year, Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare topped the software dollar sales chart for the third straight month, and closed out as 2019’s top seller overall.

“That makes 11 straight years that the Call of Duty franchise was the year’s best seller,’ analyst Mat Piscatella said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order finished No. 2; Madden NFL 20 (No. 3) and No. 4 NBA 2K20. No. 5, Luigi’s Mansion 3; No. 6, Pokemon Sword; No. 7, Mario Kart 8; No. 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; No. 9, Pokemon Shield; No. 10, Minecraft.


NPD: October Video Game Sales Fail to Beat Last Year’s Record

Sales of video games and hardware in October topped $1 billion, which was down 34% from last year’s record $1.57 billion month, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The tally was still the second-best October in past 10 years, and a positive for an industry undergoing change in how consumers acquire and play games.

Indeed, console sales continue to struggle as consumers await new editions slated to begin launching a year from now.

Hardware revenue plummeted 41% to $182 million from $308 million last year, while software revenue fell 37% to $620 million from $984 million. Accessories and game card sales dropped 16% to $231 million from $275 million.

“Year-to-date spending across tracked video game hardware, software, accessories and game cards has fallen 10% [to $9.3 billion] when compared to October 2018,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a videoblog post.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision) topped software sales, besting The Outer Worlds (Take Two) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Nintendo). Modern Warfare has become the top-selling title in 2019.

“This is the 12th consecutive year a ‘Call of Duty’ game has ranked as the best-selling game of its release month,” Piscatella said. “‘Call of Duty’ remains the best-selling video game in U.S. tracked history by dollar sales.”

NPD: September Video Game Sales Drop 8%

Sales of video game hardware and software continued their monthly decline, with September revenue down 8% to $1.27 billion compared with $1.39 billion from the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

“Year-to-date spending across tracked video game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards has fallen 6% when compared to 2018, to $8.3 billion,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in video blog. “Declines in hardware spending have driven the decrease.”

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Indeed, sales of game consoles and handheld devices plummeted 22% to $240 million from $307 million last year. Hardware sales continue to be negatively impacted by Microsoft and Sony not releasing new edition consoles until the 2020 winter holidays.

Software sales dropped 4% to $732 million from $761 million in 2018. Accessories and game cards fell 7% to $308 million from $328 million last year.

Top-selling titles in the month based on revenue (not units)

  1. NBA 2K20
  2. Borderlands 3
  3. FIFA 20
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  5. Madden NFL 20
  6. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
  7. Gears 5
  8. Code Vein
  9. NHL 20
  10. Mario Kart 8
  11. Minecraft
  12. Grand Theft Auto V
  13. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  14. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
  15. Red Dead Redemption II
  16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  17. Plants vs Zombies: Battle For Neighborville
  18. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  19. Catherine
  20. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


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.


NPD: Consumer Electronics Revenue to Increase 3% Annually Through 2021

Increased consumer demand for big-screen televisions, wireless headphones, speakers and over-the-top video, consumer electronics is projected to grow 3% annually through 2021, according to new data from The NPD Group.

“Steady single-digit growth is notable in a mature market where consumers are not replacing or repurchasing items at the same rate they did in prior years,” Stephen Baker, VP, industry advisor for The NPD Group, said in a statement. “While some categories offer new, greenfield growth opportunities, the majority of revenue growth will occur from trade-ups and average sales price (ASP) increases, as opposed to rising unit volume sales.”

The movement to large screen TVs is raising category revenue, despite  expected flat unit sales overall. By 2021, more than 25% TV unit sales will be for a screen size larger than 65-inches, and those will account for 60% of the category’s sales dollars.

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Audio, true wireless headphones have become the format of choice for consumers and are expected to see tremendous growth over the forecast period. NPD said true wireless headphones will hold three-quarters of the headphone market dollar share by 2021.

“True wireless earbuds have evolved into virtual must-have mobile phone accessories, and many products now offer features such as hands-free digital assistant access and touch/tap controls for interfacing and controlling smartphones. This bond between headphone and smartphone will help drive new sales in the future,” added Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst. “Headphones is just one example of a mainstay category that is driving growth through new feature sets, we expect brands in other segments will take a similar approach to find growth in this competitive environment.”

While smart home technology will begin to slow compared to recent years, NPD expects it will remain an area of strength as decreases in ASPs will make products more accessible and drive acceptance among consumers. Home automation revenue is expected to grow 40% from 2018 to 2021.

During this timeframe NPD says smart display dollar sales are expected to triple as they become more available and serve both as a smart home interface device and a point of modern convenience.


NPD: August Video Game Sales Declined Double Digits

Retail sales of video games and hardware continue to suffer in an age of online gaming and lack of new-edition consoles.

The NPD Group reported that overall game sales fell 18% in August to $666 million, compared with $812 million in the previous-year period.

Through Aug. 31, total game spending for the year is down 6% to $7 billion, from $7.4 billion in 2018.

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With major console manufacturers Sony and Microsoft not releasing new-edition units until 2020, consumers are holding back purchasing hardware.

Console sales dropped 22% to $167 million, from $214.1 million, while game sales plummeted 24% to $257 million, from $338.1 million. Accessories slipped 6% $242 million, from $257.4 million last year.

Software sales were the lowest since 1998, according to analyst Mat Piscatella.

“That’s not great,” Piscatella said on the NPD podcast.

Nintendo Switch remains the best-selling hardware platform, with August and year-to-date sales up compared to 2018. Indeed, the Japanese manufacturer continues to buttress the entire gaming industry with half of the top-selling titles in August playing exclusively on the Nintendo platform.

“It was a really weird month,” Piscatella said.

Football continues to be gaming draw with EA’s Madden NFL 20 the top-selling tile in August as it has been for the past seven years. The title, which includes select college features for the first time since litigation with the NCAA was resolved.

Madden NFL 20 is the third-best-selling title in 2019 and remains the best-selling sports title in U.S. history.

It came in ahead of Mojang’s Minecraft, the highest-ever ranking for the title, and ahead of Take Two’s perennial top-selling franchise Grand Theft Auto V in third place.

Minecraft has had an exceptionally great summer,” Piscatella said.

‘Godzilla’ Is King of the Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Aug. 31.

The sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, which was a reboot of the classic Japanese monster franchise, earned $110.5 million at the domestic box office, and sets up next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong.

Another new release, Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets 2 debuted at No. 2 on both charts. The animated sequel earned $158.1 million in U.S. theaters. Overall, it sold about 76% as many copies as Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, distributed by Disney, dropped to No. 3 on both charts after two weeks in the top spot.

No. 4 on both charts went to another newcomer, Paramount’s Rocketman. The Elton John biopic earned $96.4 million at the domestic box office.

Warner’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu dropped to No. 5 on both charts after taking the second spot the previous weeks.

Lionsgate’s new Apocalypse Now: Final Cut 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray re-release was No. 10 on the overall chart, and No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 67% of first-week Godzilla: King of the Monsters sales; 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray comprised 18% of total sales, while 3D Blu-ray made up 1%.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 had 58% of its total sales from Blu-ray, with 6% of its total sales from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, while Rocketman had 64% Blu-ray sales, 13% from 4K.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Sept. 1, Godzilla: King of the Monsters also debuted at No. 1, with Secret Life of Pets 2 at No. 2.

Universal’s The Hustle dropped a spot to No. 3, while Rocketman debuted at No. 4 and Avengers: Endgame slid to No. 5 after spending the previous week on top.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 8-31-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 9-1-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 8-31-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 8-31-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 8-31-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 9-2-19

Early ‘Madden 20’ Football Release Helps Jumpstart July Video Game Sales

The early release of Electronic Arts Sports’ annual NFL video game, Madden 20, helped boost July video game sales from the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Total sales topped $762 million from $759 million last year. Software sales skyrocketed 34% to $340 million from $253.7 million — largely due to football.

Hardware sales continue to suffer as consumers await pending new edition consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Console revenue fell 22% to $169 million from $216.6 million. Accessories fell 12% to $254 million from $288.6 million.

Through July, game revenue is down 4% at $6.4 billion from $6.6 billion last year.

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The annual football video game featuring former NFL coach John Madden was released in July instead of August in part to its inclusion of select college teams.

NCAA-sanctioned games have been shelved in recent years following litigation from some players regarding lack of compensation for their likeness or name featured in games and marketing.

The NCAA reached a $20 million settlement in 2014 with plaintiffs, who included lead plaintiff and former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It was also the last licensed year for college-themed sports video with NCAA 14.

Madden 20 features a new segment, “Face of the Franchise: QB1,” showcasing elite quarterbacks beginning with their collegiate careers.

EA reached license agreements with 10 colleges: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, LSU, Oregon, University of Southern California, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.