You always know summer is over when you read that the latest Madden NFL is the top-selling game of August.
New physical games and hardware generated $548 million in spending at United States retailers last month, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That represents a 2 percent decline in revenue for the industry, which you can primarily pin on lower software sales despite a new Madden coming out — although hardware sales are actually down as well. Console gaming in the U.S. generates about $13 billion in spending.
Game sales only racked up $207.9 million, which is down 10 percent year-over-year from $231.3 million. That tough comparison is largely due to Blizzard launching a new edition of Diablo III for consoles and Sony launching The Last of Us for PlayStation 4. This year’s big new August releases, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Until Dawn, and Rare Replay couldn’t quite make up the difference.
As for hardware, spending on the systems was down 2 percent from $195.3 million in August 2014 to $190.5 million this August.
We’ll go more in-depth into both software and hardware, but first — as always — we like to point out a few things about the nature of these numbers.
The NPD only tracks new games and systems sold at brick-and-mortar retailers in the United States. That means no digital, no mobile, and no used games. With that in mind, this data is probably best for getting a quick glimpse at a much larger and more dynamic market.
And if you’re wondering why any of this is important, I can only say that most of the big publishers pay NPD a lot of money for this information. And they likely make funding decisions based on it.
With that out of the way, here are the charts.
- Madden NFL 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Minecraft (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (Xbox One)
- Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Lego: Jurassic World (360, 3DS, Wii U, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Vita)
- Rare Replay (Xbox One)
- Until Dawn (PS4)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Combo Pack (360, PS3)
- Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, Xbox One)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
The world isn’t ending, so of course Madden is on top of this list. This pigskin game is always going to sell well as long as we spend all summer talking about Tom Brady’s deflated footballs.
But if you’re looking for some evidence that this was a bit of a rough August for game sales beyond the numbers, look no further than Minecraft at No. 2. That game is ancient. It first showed up on PC in 2009, but that it’s still outselling brand new releases like Until Dawn.
That said, games for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 typically sold really well, and it’s the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that are really dragging down revenue.
“New physical software sales for [Xbox One and PS4] consoles, up 34 percent, did not offset the 51 percent decline in [last] generation console sales as well as the 24 percent drop in portable software sales,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “This led to the 10 percent decline in August 2015 sales versus August 2014.”
And Until Dawn did the worst out of all of August’s big new games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — although it was also the only real new game. Microsoft had a re-release in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition at No. 3 and the classic bundle Rare Replay at No. 6.
Microsoft has to like seeing its exclusive games near the top half of the chart, but here’s something it must hate: every game on this list that’s on both Xbox One and PS4 sold better on Sony’s system except for the Lego game and Minecraft. For some reason, kids games always do better on Xbox One than PlayStation 4 — although, with a gaming-capable Apple TV coming soon, who knows how long that’ll last.
Madden sold better on PS4 than Xbox One, but we should point out that this chart doesn’t count bundled software. So the Madden NFL 16 Xbox One bundle doesn’t go toward this total. Additionally, Xbox One is the only platform with EA Access, which enables people to buy digital EA games — like Madden — early and at a $5 discount. EA has never shared how much this accounts for the sales of its games, but it’s possible that it’s responsible for a significant portion.
Finally, Call of Duty and Batman are both hanging strong near the bottom of the chart.
We asked Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for comment on their hardware performance in August. Nintendo declined to comment on the Wii U, but Microsoft, however, noted that the Xbox One is still outpacing its 2014 sales.
“Xbox One continued to gain momentum in August, with sales in the U.S. up 26 percent over August 2014,” Xbox marketing boss Mike Nichols said in a statement provided to Gamesbeat.
Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 4 outsold its competition once again.
“We would like to thank our fans and partners for their ongoing support of PlayStation and for making PS4 the top selling console and No. 1 in software sales in North America in August,” a Sony spokesperson said in a statement provided to GamesBeat.