March was a deep month for the gaming industry. Publisher Take-Two Interactive’s BioShock Infinite led the pack of new games with big sales, but more than a dozen titles sold in excess of 100,000 physical copies.
Take-Two sold 878,000 physical copies of BioShock Infinite on consoles alone, according to industry research firm Cowen & Company. As impressive at that is, Cowen credits a deep release schedule for pushing industry-wide software sales up 2 percent compared to its frightening estimates that software would contract by 21 percent.
“Bioshock Infinite delivered a few 100,000 units of upside, as did Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension,” Cowen analyst Doug Creutz said in a note to investors. “The majority of the beat versus our estimates, however, came from non-triple A new releases. Fourteen new release titles sold at least 100,000 units during the month, a benchmark last equaled in November 2011 and last beaten in October 2009.”
So this is the first time since November 2011 that 14 games have all cleared 100,000 units in sales. That means every game on yesterday’s top 10 best-selling games of March sold at least that much. We also know that Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates To Infinity, which didn’t make the top 10, sold 145,000 if you include both retail and eShop sales.
The biggest winners for the month, on the publishing side, were Activision and Take-Two.
“Including retail PC sales, Activision Blizzard was up 105 percent year-over-year,” said Creutz. “That’s well above our estimate of up 54 percent. [That's] due to surprisingly strong sales of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, which we had not even bothered to model.”
“Take-Two was up 154 percent year-over-year,” said Creutz. “That’s well above our up 88 percent estimate on upside from Bioshock.”
Electronic Arts, meanwhile, was down 53 percent year-over-year. That’s mostly because the company sold the bulk of its SimCity games online and released Mass Effect 3 in 2012, causing a tough comparison.