The first month of 2015 saw the one big new game trump a bunch of returning best-sellers from 2014. But the biggest news is the return of the PlayStation 4 as the No. 1 selling console in the U.S.
The Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Warner Bros. Interactive’s zombie-survival game Dying Light pushed total game sales to $625.7 million in January. That’s down 5 percent from $662.1 million in January 2014. While software sales were up, hardware was down big time from $239.6 million to $185.5 million. This is a reversal of the 2014 trend that saw hardware up nearly every month while game sales lagged behind. It is likely switching around now as the hardware market is settling into place. The console gaming business is worth around $15 billion in the U.S. alone.
We’ll get to the full software sales list here in a moment, but first we always like to point out that the NPD numbers are only representative of new physical games sold at U.S. retailers. While that makes up a huge chunk of the market, it does not include digital or mobile — which totaled $1.1 billion in January. With that in mind, you should probably only view these numbers and results as a snapshot of trends in a wider market.
- Dying Light (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One ,PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3)
- Minecraft (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
- NBA 2K15 (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Super Smash Bros. (Wii U, 3DS)
- Far Cry 4 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Madden NFL 15 (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3)
- Destiny (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3)
- FIFA 15 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, Wii, Vita, 3DS)
What an interesting month.
It’s not surprising that Dying Light topped this list. It was the only big release to debut in January, and it has Zombies in it. That’s usually a pretty good combination.
“In January 2015, Dying Light had the highest first month of sales for new IP in the survival-horror genre, exceeding the previous record, The Evil Within, which launched in October 2014,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.
Sony is probably happy that the zombie game sold best on the PlayStation 4. But this month is strange in that neither the PS4 or Xbox One dominated in terms of owning the sales for the top 10. In previous months, either one or the other would end up as the top platform for each game (you can tell by the order in which the systems appear in parenthesis), but in January Microsoft and Sony took turns.
What’s clear is that Call of Duty and Madden continue to sell well on Xbox One, but so does Destiny, NBA 2K15, and Grand Theft Auto V.
Microsoft actually claimed the win in the software battle despite the PS4’s win in the hardware race.
“After closing a record-breaking holiday, 2015 is off to a great start,” Xbox marketing corporate vice president Mike Nichols said. “With record January sales for Xbox One and more game sales per console than any other platform.”
Outside of the obvious Sony-versus-Microsoft matchup, Nintendo continues to reap the rewards of delivering a solid Super Smash Bros. game. The publisher confirmed it sold 180,000 physical and digital copies of its beloved four-player fighter during the month.
Sony claimed the win for January.
”PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console in January, it and remains the cumulative leader in the U.S., according to NPD data,” an SCEA spokesperson told GamesBeat. “Since launch in November 2013, 18.5 million PS4 units and 81.8 million software units have been sold through to consumers worldwide.”
This ends the Xbox One’s two-month win streak, which occurred over November and December — two of the most important months of the years in terms of game sales.
The PS4 likely wrestled momentum away from the Xbox One after the price for Microsoft’s system went from $350 to $400 for the first week of January. Microsoft once again dropped the price last month, but that likely hurt sales a little bit.
Nintendo dropped some fuzzy math on us.
“Sales of Wii U hardware and software increased by nearly 30 percent and nearly 45 percent, respectively, over the same month last year,” a spokesperson for the publisher said without revealing specific numbers.
Overall, though, January wasn’t that great for hardware.
“Hardware sales declined by 23 percent as sales cooled off after the holiday season,” said Callahan. “Eighth generation console hardware sales were down by 22 percent while seventh generation console hardware sales decreased by 35 percent.”
We may have found the plateau for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sales.