The PlayStation 4 was king once again to start off 2014.
Gamers only spent $664 million on physical games at brick-and-mortar stores, which is down 21 percent from $835 million in 2013, according to industry research firm The NPD Group‘s monthly report. But the comparison isn’t quite fair since The NPD Group observed a five-week period in January 2013.
“Overall retail video game sales would be down only 1 percent instead of down 21 percent, if sales were normalized to account for the five-week January 2013 compared to the four-week January 2014,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.
The big drop was due lackluster software numbers. Spending on hardware picked up 17 percent to $241 million. But people spent 40 percent less on games to only rack up a total of $224 million in software sales.
As always, these figures only represent physical sales of new games. It does not include digital or used software, which is a major aspect of the market. For that reason, NPD’s monthly report is best viewed as a snapshot of what is doing well and not necessarily as a barometer for the overall health of gaming.
With that said, let’s take a look at the best-selling games of January.
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, PC)
- NBA 2K14 (PS4, 360, Xbox One, PS3, PC)
- Battlefield 4 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Wii U, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)
- Madden NFL 25 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Minecraft (360)
- FIFA 14 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, Vita)
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, 3DS, Wii U, Vita, PC)
- Tomb Raider (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
It’s interesting to note that the PS4 version is outselling the Xbox One version for each one of the above games except for Call of Duty: Ghosts and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. That led Microsoft to point out that Xbox One and Xbox 360, when taken together, are responsible for the most software sales.
“January NPD Group figures released today revealed [that] Xbox systems sold the most games across all console platforms in January with 2.27 million units sold, making up 47 percent of software market share,” Microsoft marketing boss Yusuf Medhi wrote. “Fans continue to show their excitement for new-generation Xbox One games, with U.S. consumers purchasing an average of 2.7 games per console since launch.”
Of course, that’s for both current- and last-gen games. When only looking at the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it looks like Sony has a distinct edge.
“It’s clear gamers are choosing PlayStation as the best place to play, with PS4 software sales ranking No. 1 in January, highlighted by strong sales of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which sold twice as many units on PS4 than any other platform,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said.
As for the games themselves, Call of Duty once again topped the list, but NBA 2K14 is continuing to chart well thanks to its strong performance on PlayStation 4. Minecraft on Xbox 360, one of the best-selling games of 2013, is still making its mark on this top 10.
As is often the case, some companies are keeping their hardware sales on the down-low. Microsoft did not specify how many Xbox Ones it sold. That’s the first time it hasn’t divulged that information, and it is typically a bad sign for the monthly hardware numbers.
“PS4 led overall hardware sales this month, followed by the Xbox One,” said Callahan.
We reached out to Microsoft for its sales result, but it declined to comment. Nintendo also did not update its hardware numbers. Sony, however, confirmed that the PS4 doubled Xbox One’s sales.
“Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong as it was No. 1 in sales for next-gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next-gen competitor, and remains the cumulative leader, according to today’s NPD report,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said. ”Although PS4 remains severely constrained at retail, we are working hard to refresh supply as quickly as possible.”
Reports but PlayStation 4 sales at around 280,000 while Xbox One supposedly did around 145,000.
While Sony has the advantage, both consoles are continuing to sell. January was a down month, but hardware sales should pick up in March once each system starts getting their new big games.
“Continued success of the new consoles drove a 17 percent increase in hardware sales in January 2014, and when taking into account the 5-week month of January 2013 compared to the four-week month of January 2014, normalized sales of hardware were up 47 percent,” the analyst said.