NPD: July Video Game Sales Declined 9% From 2021

Sales of video games, hardware and accessories fell 9% in July to $3.83 billion, from $4.17 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group. Software sales fell almost 10% to $3.66 billion, from $4.06 billion a year ago, while accessory spending dropped 22% to $148 million, from $189.7 million.

Hardware sales rebounded 12% with revenue of $411.3 million, from $362 million a year ago, driven by sales of the Sony PlayStation 5 console. Total video game software spending through July is off 10% at $26.8 billion, from $29.7 billion during the previous-year period. Accessory spending is off 15% at $1.2 billion, from $1.41 billion. Hardware spending is off 7% at $2.49 billion, from $2.67 billion.

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Top 10 Selling Video Games July 2022

Rank Rank Last Month Title Publisher
1 NEW MultiVersus Warner Bros. Interactive
2 1 Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
3 2 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Warner Bros. Interactive
4 NEW Xenoblade Chronicles 3* Nintendo
5 11 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
6 4 MLB: The Show 22^ Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
7 6 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
8 NEW Digimon Survive Bandai Namco Entertainment
9 10 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
10 12 F1 22 Electronic Arts

* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox & Switch digital sales not included

‘Halo’ Series Sets Viewership Records on Paramount+ Following Company-Wide Marketing Blitz

The first two episodes of “Halo,” the Paramount+ original series adaptation of the video game franchise of the same name, have reportedly topped the “Yellowstone” prequel series “1883” as the streamer’s most-watched original content. Paramount didn’t disclose actual streaming data for the show that debuted on March 24 and reportedly costs $10 million per episode.

In a blog post, Adele Plumail, SVP of cross-company marketing at Paramount, wrote that the erstwhile ViacomCBS (now Paramount Global) media giant leveraged “every corner” of Paramount’s content portfolio to entice “Halo” viewership on Paramount+.

“It’s the biggest cross-company campaign we’ve ever done, reflecting Paramount’s focus on streaming and our ability to market content to audiences across our uniquely powerful portfolio,” Plumail wrote. 

The marketing executive said the company knew that the Halo user base was “super sticky,” giving the brand great potential beyond gamers who might be looking for a sci-fi story with engaging characters and drama.

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“That’s exactly the kind of premium content that lures audiences to streaming platforms,” Plumail wrote. “We believe that it will really continue to propel Paramount+ forward. With our portfolio of brands and platforms, we’re able to go both wide and deep — creating huge awareness moments and also hyper-target certain audiences based on demographics and content affinities.”

Ahead of the series launch, Paramount identified two groups to target its marketing to: sci-fi enthusiasts, who over-index with gamers, and a general entertainment audience to attract premium drama viewers.

Plumail said the marketing department “worked” internally all of Paramount’s networks, including MTV, CBS, Comedy Central, BET, and Paramount Network, to identify programming environments that would attract target audiences, and to plan content that would over-index among that sci-fi viewer.

“We also sought out some higher impact placements in the general entertainment/drama category to really put “Halo” front and center,” she wrote.

That included dropping the “Halo” series trailer during the AFC Championship game on CBS on Jan. 30. More than 48 million people saw the trailer that day.

“That’s an incredible way to create a runway to launch,” Plumail wrote. 

For the series launch day, Plumail’s team planned a “total takeover” of all Paramount platforms and channels, including a two-minute roadblock of “Halo”-themed content.

For example, Comedy Central ran a marathon of video game-themed episodes of “South Park,” featuring interstitials of “Halo” content. The show received additional national exposure through the ongoing March Madness college basketball tournament on CBS.

“Paramount+ is a great unifier,” Plumail wrote. “It houses our brands and our fan bases from across the portfolio and gives them an opportunity to find more content that they love in the service. In this case, we’re all rallying to make ‘Halo’ a hit.”

Netflix Partners With Take-Two for Movie Adaptation of ‘BioShock’ Video Game Franchise

Netflix Feb. 15 announced it is partnering with video game publisher 2K, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, to produce a live-action movie adaptation of the renowned 2007 video game franchise BioShock. Co-producers include Vertigo Entertainment, a subsidiary of Take-Two.

The award-winning BioShock game franchise includes BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, which reportedly have sold almost 40 million units across physical and digital platforms.

Set across multiple dystopian and visionary landscapes gone wrong, the series blends sci-fi and horror to pose unique existential and societal questions that reshaped how game stories could be told — all amid action gameplay that rewards sharpshooting, planning, and lethal improvisation.

Across the titles’ original releases as well as multiple re-releases, remastered editions and bundled collections, BioShock is widely recognized as one of the most popular series in all of gaming. The next installment is currently in development by Cloud Chamber.

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‘Grand Theft Auto’ Owner Take-Two Acquires Zynga for $12.7 Billion in Video Game Mega-Merger

Take-Two Interactive and Zynga, two prominent video game publishers in interactive and mobile gaming, Jan. 10 announced that they have entered into a merger agreement, under which Take-Two will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Zynga in a cash and stock transaction valued at about $12.7 billion.

The merger unifies two global leaders in the interactive entertainment business and makes Take-Two one of the largest mobile game publishers in the industry, with $6.1 billion in pro-forma revenue for the trailing 12-month period ended Sept. 30, 2021.

The merger is expected to create $100 million in annual cost synergies within the first two years post-closing, and at least $500 million of annual
net bookings opportunities over time, according to Take-Two chairman/CEO Strauss Zelnick.

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“[This deal] significantly diversifies our business and establishes our leadership position in mobile, the fastest growing segment of the interactive entertainment industry,” Zelnick said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Zynga stockholders will receive $3.50 in cash per share, and $6.361 in shares of Take-Two common stock for each share of Zynga outstanding common stock. The purchase price represents a premium of 64% to Zynga’s closing share price on Jan. 7.

“With this transaction, we begin a new journey, which will allow us to create even better games, reach larger audiences and achieve significant growth as a leader in the next era of gaming,” said Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau.

Indeed, both companies have created and expanded some of the biggest-selling game franchises. Take-Two properties include Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, Midnight Club, NBA 2K, BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, Mafia, and Kerbal Space Program. Zynga’s portfolio includes CSR Racing, Empires & Puzzles, FarmVille, Golf Rival, Hair Challenge, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, High Heels!, Merge Dragons!, Toon Blast, Toy Blast, Words With Friends and Zynga Poker.

“This strategic combination brings together our best-in-class console and PC franchises … that has a rich history of innovation and creativity,” Zelnick said. “Zynga also has a highly talented and deeply experienced team, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Take-Two family in the coming months.”

Microsoft Bows Xbox Series X and Series S Consoles

Microsoft Nov. 10 announced availability of the next-generation Xbox Series X video game console, priced at $499, and Xbox Series S unit available for $299.

Microsoft will formally launch the new gaming systems in a global livestream at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET on YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming.

Microsoft says the Xbox Series X features 12 teraflops of GPU power enabling new technologies and features such as framerates up to 120 fps, hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing, variable rate shading, and Quick Resume, which enables players to resume exactly where they left off. The Xbox Series S offers similar performance at a more affordable price. The Xbox Series X|S are available in 40 markets around the world today.

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Microsoft claims the Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles enabling gamers to play thousands of games across four generations.

“We believe that gamers should be able to play all of their games from the past without needing to purchase them again, and they should play better than ever before,” wrote Will Tuttle, editor in chief of Xbox Wire.

This means that all titles should run at enhanced speed and more clarity than they were originally designed for on their original launch platform. Backward compatible games run natively with the full performance of the Xbox Series X|S for each and every backward compatible game.

“These games will look better than ever thanks to improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR support,” Tuttle wrote.

Netflix Mounts Game Competition for ‘Immortal’ Account to Promote ‘The Old Guard’

To celebrate the release of the Netflix action film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron, Netflix has announced a nationwide U.S. competition for an “Immortal” Netflix account (1,000 months of subscription, or 83 years).

Consumers can win the account by obtaining the highest score in an original The Old Guard video game (, where they play as a Labrys-wielding immortal and defeat hordes of enemies.

The competition will be held for three days, July 17, 18 and 19. Whoever reigns as No. 1 once at the end of the three days get the “Immortal” account.

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The Old Guard video game

The Old Guard, based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka, is a Netflix original film that follows a covert team of noble mercenaries. When their mysterious inability to die is suddenly exposed, they must fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. The film stars Charlize Theron who plays Andy (or Andromache of Scythia), one of the oldest and most seasoned immortals on a mission to save her crew. The film also stars Kiki Layne and is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

The Old Guard debuted on Netflix July 10.

Elon Musk at E3: New Teslas to Offer Game Play, Netflix Streaming

When Elon Musk arrived at the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles, he must have felt like the man who gulped pure oxygen after living with high-altitude sickness. After dealing with countless issues and enduring Congressional scrutiny with both Tesla and Space X, he spent a day stepping back into his roots — video gaming.

“I’ve always been into video games,” he told a packed house at the Microsoft Novo Theatre. “The first time I programmed I was 10 or 11, but it was published when I was 12. It was called Blaster.” That drew a lot of nods from gamers now in their 40s and 50s. “You’re a space fighter, blasting and fighting space aliens. I wrote the game, and did graphics and sound. There was no one else to do it, but it was a very simple game. I want to emphasize that.”

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Musk and video games have both come a long way since his first programming efforts. He appeared at E3 to announce a pair of video games coming to Tesla vehicles, Beach Buggy Racing 2 and Fallout Shelter, in conjunction with video game shop Bethesda Softworks. “I’ve been a fan of Bethesda Softworks games for a long time,” he said. “I’ve played the Fallout 3 game a lot. I’ve explored every corner of that game. Also played Fallout 4; that’s great. I’m such a Fallout fan that one time, I was having a birthday, and I wanted the statue of Vault Boy in my house.”

Fallout Shelter will bring the “Fallout” series to Tesla screens. It will join the run-and-gun video game Cuphead and Beach Buggy Racing 2 as games in development. They will be available to every Tesla model with an over-the-air software update. Beach Buggy Racing 2 includes quite a feature — direct wiring to the car’s braking and steering. “If you have a racing game, and you have a steering wheel — sitting right there…” Musk teased. “The way we have it, the brake is wired in. The scroll wheel is wired to the gas pedal. Sitting on the brake if you’re stationary isn’t a problem; sitting on the gas might be.”

To that point, Musk and Bethesda Softworks chief Todd Howard emphasized that the games will only work when the Tesla is parked. ““You have to park the car to play these. The fun police make us park the car,” Musk chuckled. Later, he added, “Our games come from a question we all ask at Tesla: ‘How can we make being in the car the most fun?’ First, we look for things other people don’t have. If you just park somewhere, waiting for someone or on a road trip, it would be pretty cool to go to the car screen and play.”

The Tesla software, screen and controller are designed to house and stream a variety of video games, according to Musk. “You can play almost all the Tari games in the car,” he explained. “You can connect Xbox or PS4 controller and have some pretty good control feedback. We have some cool games, and the more people like them, the more games we’ll create and the higher up game development will be on our list. We’ll also put games into an archive you can screen-tap to download. Besides video games, we’re going to enable passengers to stream videos through the browser, watch Netflix or YouTube, if the car is parked and connected to wi-fi, say at a supercharging station.

“Our games come from a question we all ask at Tesla: ‘How can we make being in the car the most fun?’ First, we look for things other people don’t have. If you just park somewhere, waiting for someone or on a road trip, it would be pretty cool to go to the car screen and play,” he added.

Today, many compare Musk to Thomas Edison; in fact, some consider him the most important inventor on the planet since Edison. The founder of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City sits on the front lines of sustainable driving, space exploration and green energy — and is pushing the envelope on Mars exploration. “We’re even looking at developing video game platforms for our space capsule, for crews going to Mars,” he said. “That’s going to be a long flight out there.”

However, he is not a profiteering late-adopter to video games. He’s more of a video game pioneer. He is very clear that without falling into video games as a boy, we never would have seen the larger products and technologies of his visionary mind.

“I thought seriously about creating video games as a career, for sure. Seemed like it would be sort of fun,” he recalled. “I even worked at a gaming start-up, strangely enough called Rocket Science. Fate loves irony, right? I worked there programming games, about 25 years ago. The reason I got interested in technology was video games. I wouldn’t have been as interested in computers and technology if not for video games. They’re a powerful force for getting kids in technology. The positive effects for kids, in this day and age, are far more positive than people realize. When we’re interviewing someone for a software engineering role at Tesla or Space X, we’ll ask, ‘How did you get started programming?’ More often than not, they’ll say, ‘video games.’

“Many of the best software engineers have spent parts of their careers at video game houses. If people tried to create realistic graphics using very little computer power, that’s a hard problem. So a lot of people had to write really tight code and come up with really great ideas to do that. Problem solving in video games transfers to a lot of software engineering skills, and demand is going to keep growing for that.”

Robert Yehling is an award-winning author, the founding editor of Innovation & Tech Today, and Executive Editor of STEM Today magazine.

Video Game Show E3 Opens June 11 With New AR Experience

E3 2019, the biggest annual video game trade show, opens June 11 for a three-day run at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

New this year is “The Unreal Garden @ E3,” an evolved version of the San Francisco-based augmented reality experience with new scenes and content.

E3 delivers new immersive experiences to E3 attendees each year. “The Unreal Garden @ E3,” a pop-up, blends the use of art, entertainment, augmented reality, projections, soundscapes, and technology.

“E3 provides unparalleled interactive experiences to our attendees,” said Dan Hewitt, VP of communications for the Entertainment Software Association, the U.S. video game trade association that owns and manages E3. “The Unreal Garden @ E3 provides a world-class opportunity for E3 attendees to explore the intersection of technology and human experience.”

Produced by Onedome and built on the Enklu platform, The Unreal Garden launched in San Francisco in October 2018, and is the first large-scale multiplayer AR experience using multiple technologies to deliver a fully immersive, interactive social experience with collaboration and connection at the core. Both Onedome and Enklu’s vision is to use interactive technologies to bring people together to inspire collaboration, connection, community, and empower the creative within.

Last year’s E3 attracted more than 69,200 visitors and featured more than 200 exhibitors, including 85 companies that were exhibiting at the event for the first time, showing 3,250 products.

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ a Massive Hit, with 17 Million Copies Sold in Just 8 Days

Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 has sold 17 million copies since its Oct. 26 release, parent company Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said in a Nov. 7 earnings release.

That surpasses the total lifetime sales tally for the original Western open-world game Red Dead Redemption, released eight years ago, in 2010.

Take-Two chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick said in the release that the game sequel is the label’s “first game built from the ground up for the current console generation. Red Dead Redemption 2 has received outstanding reviews, with numerous critics awarding the title a perfect score. The title is now tied with Grand Theft Auto V as the highest rated title on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a 97 Metacritic score.

“A massive commercial success, Red Dead Redemption 2 has set numerous records, including achieving the biggest opening weekend in the history of entertainment, with over $725 million in retail sell-through during its first three days. Red Dead Redemption 2 sold-in more units in its first eight days than the original blockbuster Red Dead Redemption sold in its first eight years….

“As a result of our strong second quarter performance and outstanding early results from Red Dead Redemption 2, we are raising our financial outlook for fiscal 2019…. Looking ahead, we have a strong development pipeline across our labels and are exceedingly well positioned for long-term growth and margin expansion.”

On a subsequent earnings call with analysts, Zelnick noted that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a “collaboration among all of Rockstar Game studios worldwide, including more than 2,000 team members.” The game, he continued, “features the deepest and most expansive Rockstar world to date.”

Take-Two reported strong results for its fiscal second quarter 2019 ended Sept. 30, 2018. Net revenue grew 11% to $492.7 million, as compared to $443.6 million in last year’s fiscal second quarter. Recurrent consumer spending (virtual currency, add-on content and in-game purchases) grew 12% and accounted for 49% of total net revenue.

The largest contributors to net revenue in fiscal second quarter 2019 were NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K18Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto VNBA 2K Online 2, Dragon City and Monster Legends, and WWE SuperCard.

Digitally-delivered net revenue grew 18% to $358.4 million, as compared to $302.9 million in last year’s fiscal second quarter, and accounted for 73% of total net revenue.

The largest contributors to digitally-delivered net revenue in fiscal second quarter 2019 were Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto VNBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19NBA 2K Online 2Monster Legends and Dragon City, and WWE SuperCard.

More Retro Sega Video Games in the Pipeline

Sega of America on Sept. 20 announced that the first two titles in its “Sega Ages” line, Sonic the Hedgehog and Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, are now available digitally on Nintendo Switch on the Nintendo eShop for $7.99 each.

Sega Ages is a series of classic Sega games developed by M2, the Japanese developer known for high-quality ports of vintage games such as the popular “Sega 3D Classics” series on the Nintendo 3DS.  The line is part of Sega’s broader support for retro games, including upcoming releases such as Sega Genesis Classics for Nintendo Switch.

Sonic the Hedgehog is the Blue Blur’s debut title. This is where the chase for those Chaos Emeralds started. This new version of the classic video game also adds new features like Drop Dash, as well as the console premiere of the Mega Play arcade version.

Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, considered one of the best shooters of its era, features frenetic action and vertical and horizontal scrolling. The new version of the game mixes in a new Styx mode that lets players pilot the ship from its predecessor, plus a Kids mode for newcomers and rankings for the “shmup” elite.

In the coming months, fans of vintage video games will be able to enjoy other classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Out RunSpace HarrierColumns II, Thunder Force AC, and Phantasy Star.

Phantasy Star is a groundbreaking sci-fi RPG that follows Alis in her planet-spanning quest to avenge the death of her brother and topple a tyrannical regime. Besides faithfully recreating the original experience, this version adds a new map display to help novice adventurers and a compendium where longtime fans can view their favorite monsters.