Microsoft’s price drop was enough to push give it another big win in December.
The gaming industry generated $3.25 billion in spending in the last month of the year, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s down just a smidgen from $3.28 billion last year. While December held steady, it wasn’t enough to bring down the year as a whole. Total revenue for 2014 was up 1 percent year-over-year. As for the console war, the Xbox One was able to outsell the PS4 for the second month in a row.
For December, hardware ticked down 4 percent from $1.37 billion to $1.31 billion, and software didn’t make up the different. New physical games saw spending of $1.25 billion, which was down 2 percent from $1.28 billion. The only area that saw an increase was game accessories, which includes interactive toys like Activision’s Skylanders and Nintendo’s Amiibos. That sector gained 8 percent from $630.6 million to $681.2 million.
“Keep in mind that the results for December and 2014 as a whole show the console space is going through a period of two transitions,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “One being a generational transition from seventh generation to eighth generation consoles and second, a format transition as console gamers become more comfortable with downloading games and what is being offered digitally.”
When it comes to these NPD figures, it’s crucial to remember that it only tracks new physical game sales at U.S. retailers. These numbers do not include digital, used, or international spending. And with that out of the way, let’s check out the top-seller chart.
The order of the hardware in parenthesis indicates which version of the game sold best.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
- Madden NFL 15 (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
- Super Smash Bros. (Wii U, 3DS)
- NBA 2K15 (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PC)
- Minecraft (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4)
- Far Cry 4 (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
- Just Dance 2015 (Wii, Xbox 360, Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
- Destiny (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3)
- FIFA 15 (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Wii, 3DS, Vita)
The first thing that stands out in these numbers is that the Xbox One version outsold the PS4 version for every game except for Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4. That almost never happens, and it suggests that gamers are saving money on those discounted Xbox Ones (they were going for between $330 and $350 at the time) and putting that cash into software.
Beyond that, this chart holds few surprises. Call of Duty and GTA V dominate, along with Madden NFL 15 at No. 3, which is obviously getting a boost from the exciting football season.
Super Smash Bros. continues to sell well, and Minecraft — with disc versions on all of the major consoles now — is back in the top five.
But this list games is missing a breakout seller like 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V, so it’s a surprise that software sales weren’t down more than they were. That speaks to the hunger consumers have for things to play on their new hardware. That was the story for most of the year, and it continued through to its end.
Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 and the rest of the competition in December.
“Xbox One ended 2014 with an unprecedented holiday season,” reads an Xbox news release. “[It was] the best-selling console in the U.S. in November and December. In fact, weekly average sales during these months outpaced Xbox 360 by 50 percent at the same point in its lifecycle.”
It’s not too surprising that the Xbox One outperformed the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One was $50 cheaper than Sony’s system throughout most of the holiday-shopping season. That was enough to push it over the top.
We’ve asked Sony and Nintendo for a comment about their respective systems, and we’ll update this post with any new information.