Gamers weren’t as willing to open their wallets last month.
March was slow for new games and hardware sales at United States retailers despite the launch of a new Battlefield first-person shooter and the anticipated debut of the action-role-playing game Bloodborne. According to market research firm NPD Group, consumers in the U.S. spent $963.7 million on software, consoles, and accessories in March. That’s down 6 percent from $1.02 billion during the same period in 2014. The big drag on revenue was definitely new hardware sales, which were down 21 percent from $393.4 million in March 2014 to just $311.1 million this year.
In terms of software, Battlefield: Hardline, Bloodborne, and more faced a tough comparison to the March 2014 launch of Titanfall, a sci-fi multiplayer shooter, and Infamous: Second Son. Total sales were down 3 percent from $405.6 million last March to $395.4 million last month. But this isn’t a sign that people are done buying games for their new systems.
“Physical software sales decreased by 6 percent from March 2014 as strong growth of [PS4, Xbox One, Wii U] helped to partially offset the sharp declines of seventh generation consoles, which were down 52 percent, and physical PC games, down 64 percent,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “A bright light in the portable space was the increase in 3DS software sales of over 20 percent from March 2014.
“March 2015 software sales showed growth across all three eighth-generation consoles — PS4, Xbox One, Wii U,” Callahan continued. “[They] collectively increased by 58 percent versus March 2014. This is a sign of the health of the eight generation console space; especially when considering the strong March 2014 software releases as a comparison, such as Titanfall and Inamous: Second Son.”
Next, we’re going to talk about the top-selling games, but first it’s important to keep in mind that these numbers only represent a fraction of the industry. NPD only tracks new games sold at U.S. retailers. This doesn’t include second-hand GameStop software, mobile, and digital. So we like to treat this report as a snapshot of the wider market. It’s a decent way to understand what is selling, but it’s not wholly representative of the money consumers are spending on gaming.
With that out of the way, let’s get on to the charts.
- Battlefield: Hardline (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Bloodborne (PS4)
- Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3)
- Mario Party 10 (Wii U) (sold 290,000 copies physical and digital, according to Nintendo)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- MLB 15: The Show (PS4, PS3)
- Minecraft (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
- NBA 2K15 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4, Xbox One)
- Final Fantasy: Type 0 HD (PS4, Xbox One)
Software sales were down slightly from March 2014, and that’s because Battlefield: Hardline and Bloodborne couldn’t quite match last year’s release of Titanfall and Infamous: Second Son.
Battlefield: Hardline at No. 1 should keep publisher Electronic Arts smiling. The Visceral-developed shooter is the first in the series from a developer other than DICE, and it looks like gamers didn’t hold Battlefield 4’s well-documented problems and glitches against it. Interestingly, the shooter sold better on Xbox One (which you can tell by the order of the platforms in parenthesis) despite PlayStation 4’s console-sales advantage.
Bloodborne also had a strong month and was able to reach the No. 2 spot despite its PS4 exclusivity. It also only had about a week and a half of sales during NPD’s tracking period, which ended April 4. Sony has said, separate of this report, that it has sold more than 1 million copies of Bloodborne. Of those, more than 155,000 were digital.
“The launch of Bloodborne ranked as second overall in software sales this month,” said Callahan. “But also has the second-highest sales for the debut month of a first-party game on the PS4, after Infamous: Second Son, in March 2014.”
Outside of the top two, other new games that made the best-selling chart include Nintendo’s Mario Party 10, MLB 15: The Show, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and Final Fantasy: Type 0 HD. Of course, all of these are either HD upgrades or uninspired sequels, but you can see why their publishers keep turning them out if they keep selling.
Beyond that, Grand Theft Auto V continues to perform well even before its PC release, and Minecraft is still unstoppable. And for the first month ever, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sold better on the PS4 than the Xbox One.
The NPD doesn’t share the hardware sales numbers, so we’ve asked the big three for a comment. Once again, PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console, according to Sony.
“We are truly honored PlayStation 4 is the top-selling console and No. 1 in software sales again according to NPD sales data for March 2015,” a spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment told GamesBeat in a statement. “PS4 remains the cumulative sales leader both globally and in the United States and we want to thank gamers worldwide for their ongoing support.”
Microsoft didn’t provide specific numbers, but it did say that it’s system is still selling well.
“In March, cumulative U.S. Xbox One sales continued to outpace Xbox 360 sales at the same point in its lifecycle,” a spokesperson told GamesBeat.
Nintendo said something similar.
“The New Nintendo 3DS XL system continues to inject growth into Nintendo’s hand-held business, and the momentum created for Wii U in 2014 has carried over into 2015,” reads a Nintendo statement. “Take these two elements, add in fun, exclusive titles starring some of the biggest names in gaming, and overall sales of Nintendo hardware systems so far in 2015 have increased by nearly 60 percent over sales during the same time frame in 2014.”
Specifically, Nintendo said the 3DS hardware sales in 2015 have increased by 80 percent. Wii U’s hardware numbers have increased by more than 20 percent over the first three months of 2015 compared to the same period last year.
While Sony is still dominating, NPD points out that both systems are still selling better than their predecessors.
“This is the seventeenth month of sales for the Xbox One and PS4, whose combined cumulative hardware sales are over 50 percent higher than the combined seventeen-month cumulative sales totals for the Xbox 360 and PS3,” said Callahan.