Consumers once again spent so much money buying new consoles that they had little left over to spend on software.
Gamers spent $561.3 million on new physical hardware and software at U.S. retailers last month, according to industry intelligence firm The NPD Group. That’s up from $521.1 million in August 2013. Like the past several months, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 accounted for most of the growth as software sales were down from last year.
“Overall new physical retail sales increased by 8 percent in August 2014 over August 2013,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “The month followed a similar pattern of prior months with explosive hardware growth driven by eighth-generation consoles offsetting declines in software.”
Spending on game hardware reached $196.2 million. That’s up a massive 116 percent compared to the same period in 2013. Spending on software, however, was down 21 percent to $231.6 million from $293.4 million in August 2013.
As always, it’s important to keep in mind that the NPD’s results do not reflect the entire industry. It only tracks new physical games sold at U.S. retailers. That means these figures don’t include mobile games or anything sold on digital-distribution platforms like Steam. Instead, the NPD numbers provide a snapshot of trends in a much bigger industry.
With that in mind, let’s get into the best-selling games.
1. Madden NFL 15 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
2. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
3. Minecraft (360, PS3)
4. The Last of Us (PS4, PS3)
5. Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PC, Wii U)
6. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, PS3, Wii U, PS4, 3DS, DS, Xbox One, Vita, PC)
7. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One)
8. Watch Dogs (PS4, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PC)
9. Battlefield 4 (360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
10. The Lego Movie Videogame (360, 3DS, PS3, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, Vita)
Unsurprisingly, Madden topped the charts. Analysts were predicting earlier this week that the football game from publisher EA Sports would perform well and even give a boost to the Xbox One since Microsoft was selling a game-plus-console bundle at retail. The chart above does not include bundled games, but even if you include those, PS4 Madden still sold better. Madden may have done that, but the standalone version sold better on the PlayStation 4 (as you can see in the rankings in the parentheses by each game). Action-role-playing game Diablo III, which finally debuted on the new-gen consoles, also sold better on PS4.
It’s worth pointing out that the PlayStation 4 versions outsold their Xbox One counterparts for every game on the top 10 list except for Call of Duty: Ghosts. With Sony dominating the marketing for the just-released science-fiction-based shooter Destiny, that’s likely to happen in September as well. Microsoft may really start panicking if the next Call of Duty, a series that historically performed much better on Xbox One and Xbox 360, sells better on PS4.
The rest of the list looks a lot like July’s NPD report. Minecraft, the block-building phenomenon, is still hovering near the top of the chart. This is after the physical 360 version finished 2013 as the ninth best-selling new game at U.S. retailers.
The NPD Group doesn’t share the hardware numbers with the public, but we’ve reached out to the hardware manufacturers to get direct statements.
Sony confirmed that PS4 had another great month.
“PlayStation 4 was No. 1 in hardware sales for the eighth consecutive month,” PlayStation senior vice president of marketing Guy Longworth said. “And it remains the cumulative leader for new-generation game consoles.”
While it still couldn’t outsell the PS4, Xbox One is doing better. Microsoft provided the following comment:
“Xbox One sales are on a positive trajectory, nearly doubling sales in August in the U.S. compared to July due in part to strong demand for the Xbox One Madden NFL 15 bundle. We’re looking forward to bringing the best value bundles, incredible offers like the ‘Buy a Console, Get a Game Free’ promotion running now, and more great games as we gear up for the launches of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2, Destiny, Grand Theft Auto V, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”
Earlier this week, analysts for investment firm Wedbush Morgan predicted that Sony sold around 175,000 PS4s at U.S. retailers, while Microsoft was right behind it with 150,000 Xbox Ones sold.
What’s clear is that new-gen consoles are still selling incredibly well.
“When lining up sales of PS4 and Xbox One after 10 months on the market,” said Callahan, “the combined PS4 and Xbox One hardware sales are greater by over 70 percent compared to their predecessors.”
Basically, in English, the NPD is finding that the PS4 and Xbox One are selling 70 percent faster than the PS3 and Xbox 360.
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