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The sale of new physical games at retail retreated another 25 percent in May, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.
Total game sales at physical stores like GameStop and Best Buy totaled only $386.3 million. That’s down from $517 million from the year before. It’s important to emphasize that these numbers do not include digital sales of games on services such as the PlayStation Network or Steam, used games, or even mobile games.
“When taking into account our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in May such as used and rentals at $91 million, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including micro-transactions, subscriptions, mobile apps, and the consumer spend on social network games at $339 million, the total consumer spend in May is $787 million,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement.
We have more in-depth hardware numbers, and we’ll get to the software chart in just a second.
Before we do that, just a quick note about the NPD numbers. These charts and figures aren’t inherently important. Millions in sales are happening outside of what The NPD Group can monitor. The true value of the NPD is that Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and some other publishers continue to use it as a way to make business decisions. If you want to know why one game series is left behind while a publisher decides to create another military first-person shooter, the NPD chart is one reason why.
OK, now on to the software chart:
- Injustice: Gods Among Us (360, PS3, Wii U)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, PC, Wii U)
- Donkey Kong Country Returns (3DS, Wii)
- Dead Island: Riptide (360, PS3, PC)
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
- Metro: Last light (360, PS3, PC)
- NBA 2k13(360, ps3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC)
- BioShock Infinite (360, PS3, PC)
- Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
- Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (360, Wii, DS, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, Vita, PC)
That’s two months in a row for Injustice in the top spot, which indicates more of a weakness in May’s new releases than it does the strength of Warner Bros. DC fighting game. Outside of Metro: Last Light, the only other May release on this list is Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. That game and Luigi’s Mansion helped propel the 3DS to one of its best months in a while.
In total, software sales were down 31 percent from $255.4 million in 2012 to $175.1 million last month.
“Nintendo 3DS software-unit sales were up 60 percent versus May 2012,” said Callahan. “And when looking at the game ranking based on SKUs, there were three 3DS SKUs in the top 10.”
Still, the 3DS and Metro: Last Light couldn’t fill revenue vacuum left by Blizzard’s Diablo III release. That title, which sold in the millions, caused 2013 to drop 44 percent by comparison.
The Xbox 360 outsold the Wii, Wii U, and PlayStaiton 3 for the 29th month in a row. Microsoft revealed that the Xbox 360 sold 114,000 units in May. Nintendo’s 3DS handheld was the top-selling console overall, although the publisher didn’t reveal the specific sales numbers.
In terms of total console and portable sales, revenue dropped to just $96 million, which is down 31 percent from $139 million in the similar period a year ago.
Nintendo, which has skipped sending out NPD press releases for the last few months, sent out one to trumpet the success of its portable device.
But the company didn’t have anything to say about the Wii U’s performance. Instead, it pointed out that it is scheduling one game a month for the console through the end of the year. It has Pikmin 3 in August, The Wonderful 101 in September, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in October, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in November, and Super Mario 3D Land in December.
Nintendo will have to hit big with those games as both Sony and Microsoft plan to launch their next-gen consoles before year’s end.