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.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

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 reported 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.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

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.

 

Sony PlayStation 5 Video Game Console Launching for 2020 Winter Holidays

Sony Oct. 8 disclosed its next-generation PlayStation video game console will be named PlayStation 5 and debut in time for the winter holidays in 2020.

Sony, which first announced the pending console in April, along with Microsoft’s Xbox, are integral to the success of the video game industry.

The 2020 debut means the gaming industry will likely see continued sluggish sales of hardware and new software as consumers await the updated consoles — both of which will still include disc drives.

Indeed, 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.

Regardless, Jim Ryan, CEO, Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a blog post said the PS5 would have several improvements, most notably in the controller.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We’re adopting haptic feedback to replace the ‘rumble’ technology found in controllers since the 5th generation of consoles,” Ryan wrote. “With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.”

Ryan said the second innovation includes “adaptive triggers,”  which he said have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2).

Specifically, game developers can program the resistance of the triggers so players feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain.

“In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions,” Ryan wrote. “Game creators have started to receive early versions of the new controller, and we can’t wait to see where their imagination goes with these new features at their disposal.”

 

Google Bows $4.99 ‘Play Pass’ Video Game Platform

Google Sept. 23 announced the launch of “Play Pass,” a $4.99 monthly service offering access to more than 350 apps and video games. All games are free of ads and upfront payments.

Subscriptions include a 10-day free trial. For a limited time (12 months), Play Pass costs $1.99/month, then $4.99/month thereafter.

Play Pass apps and games can still be found on the Play Store. All apps and games found on the Play Pass homepage or throughout the Play Store with the ticket are completely unlocked with your subscription.

“Play Pass helps encourage people to try new experiences they would not have otherwise,” Maria Sayans, CEO of Ustwo, said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

 

 

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.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

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.

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.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

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.

GameStop Q2 Fiscal Loss Skyrockets; CEO ‘Acting with a Sense of Urgency’

As expected, fiscally challenged GameStop Sept. 10 posted second-quarter results that continue to question the world’s largest video game retailer’s future amid a retail gaming landscape in flux.

GameStop’s net loss of $415.3 loomed large over a net loss of $24.9 million in the prior-year quarter, which included the sale of Spring Mobile business.

The quarter included asset impairment charges and other items of $400.9 million primarily related to impairment of goodwill. Without the impairment charges, the net loss would have been $32 million.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

With manufacturers Sony and Microsoft slated to launch new hardware consoles in 2020, the market continues to suffer from an indifferent consumer.

New hardware sales decreased 41.1%, reflective of recent announcements for next generation console launches in 2020. New software sales decreased 5.3%, with growth in Nintendo Switch software titles more than offset by weaker title launches across other consoles in the quarter compared to last year. Accessories sales decreased 9.5%.

Pre-owned game sales declined 17.5% with declines in hardware and software. Digital receipts decreased 11.2% to $227.2 million due to weaker title launches in the quarter compared to last year.

Lone bright spot: Collectibles sales increased 21.2%, with continued strong double-digit growth in both domestic and international stores.

Regardless, CEO George Sherman said he remains locked on the “correct strategic path” to leverage the chain’s “unique position and brand” in the video game industry.

Sherman’s turnaround is based on four tenets, which include, optimizing the core business through efficiency and effectiveness; creating a social and cultural hub of gaming within each GameStop store; building “compelling” digital capabilities, and transforming vendor and partner relationships for an evolving gaming industry.

“We are committed to acting with a sense of urgency to address the areas of the business that are critical to achieving long-term success and value creation for all our stakeholders,” Sherman said in a statement.

Wall Street is running out of patience. GameStop shares fell nearly 11% in aftermarket trading.

Trade Group Pushes Back Against Trump’s Claim Video Games Incite Violence in Society

In the aftermath of separate mass shootings over the weekend that left 31 people dead and scores wounded, the Entertainment Software Association is pushing back against claims by President Trump and some lawmakers that violence in video games fuels violence in society.

Trump Aug. 5 condemned the attacks carried out by two shooters in their early 20s armed assault weapons.

“Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” the president said, without calling for tougher gun controls and/or outlawing assault-style weapons — the latter done in New Zealand following the slaughter of Muslim churchgoers by a white nationalist earlier this year.

Trump also called for greater focus on mental health and the end of glorifying violence in society, including “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”

Indeed, many games enable first-person shooter scenarios that mimic shooting an assault-weapon at people.

For ESA, whose publishing members include Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Activision Blizzard, the comments hit too close.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence,” the ESA said in a statement. “More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”

Regardless, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), minority leader in the House, told Fox News that many video games dehumanize human life.

Complaints about violence in games isn’t a partisan issue. Hillary Clinton in 2005 co-sponsored a bill that would have made it illegal for minors to purchase video games.

“We’ve watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals,” McCarthy told Fox News. “When you look at these [shooting] photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

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.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

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.

Report: Sony ‘PlayStation 5’ to Focus on Major Games, Tech, Including 8K Resolution

Sony Interactive Entertainment appears to be taking a page from Sony Pictures, focusing internal efforts on proven content and wow-factor graphics, among other features.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony’s unnamed fifth-generation video game console — reportedly set to launch in late 2020 — will cater to established game publishers featuring graphics-heavy features.

The strategy is not dissimilar to Sony Pictures focusing on proven franchises such as “Spider-Man,” “Ghostbusters” and “Jumanji.”

“Details when making games have become more important than ever,” Kenichiro Yoshida, CEO of Sony Corp., reportedly said at a recent company briefing.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Expectations are high for PlayStation, whose PS4 console continues to generate significant sales, including projected 17+ million units in 2019 — five years after launching.

The PlayStation brand, including hardware, software and subscriptions, generated more than $21 billion in revenue — and $3 billion operating profit — in Sony’s most-recent fiscal year.

By comparison, Sony Pictures generated about $9.2 billion in revenue, which trailed televisions and speakers ($10.1 billion) and topped smartphones at $4.6 billion.

The new PlayStation comes as the gaming industry grapples with changing technology and distribution to consumers — notably cloud-based online gaming.

Google plans to launch its Stadia platform in November while Apple readies Apple Arcade — both services circumventing traditional game consoles such as PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

According to WSJ, Sony contends online gaming doesn’t allow hardcore gamers the ability to engage in graphics-heavy content, audio and 8K resolution, among other features, due to spotty broadband connections and other tech challenges.

“[This] clearly demonstrates why it makes sense to have a next-generation console,” Yoshida said.