When the gaming industry needs a hero to help give it a revenue boost, it turns to one man: the Batman (and he helps Sony before anyone else).
Total sales for new physical games and hardware at U.S. retailers was up 18 percent in June compared to the same period in 2014, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Hardware, software, and accessories generated $869.4 million in spending during the five-week period from May 31 through July 4. And, for once, all three of these sectors saw growth to help the more than $35 billion console gaming industry.
Software had an especially good month with $345.5 million in revenues, which is up 21 percent year-over-year. That jump is primarily because we didn’t really have any major new releases in June 2014. And it doesn’t look like game sales are going to slow down.
“This is the fourth month of year-over-year increases so far in 2015 for software,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan wrote. “Through the first half of the year, software is up 3 percent. With a strong lineup of games for the remainder of the year, there is the potential for a positive growth in the second half of the year as well.”
But hardware didn’t have a bad showing as people spent 8 percent more than last year to bring the total to $313.1 million. Of course, we’re likely starting to get to a point where slow Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sales have normalized from one year to the next, so that’s probably not tugging down the numbers like it has in previous months.
Finally, before we get into the grit of the NPD report, we always like to point out that these figures are only a snapshot of a wider more dynamic industry. That’s because NPD does not include digital, foreign, or used game sales in this report. That means no Steam, no mobile, and no second-hand software from GameStop. But since publishers and platform holders still use the NPD to make big decisions, it still matters.
- Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
- Lego: Jurassic World (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, Vita)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Splatoon (Wii U)
- Minecraft (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
- Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Mortal Kombat X (PS4, Xbox One)
- NBA 2K15 (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, PC)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
Batman had a strong debut. It had a huge hand in the industry’s strong comparison to last June. The game is already the second best-selling release of the year behind only Mortal Kombat X.
“Sales of Arkham Knight slightly exceeded October 2011 sales of Batman: Arkham City, which is remarkable considering the difference in hardware install bases,” said Callahan.
Arkham Knight had an especially strong showing on PlayStation 4. Sony has already said that the Batman bundle helped sell PS4 hardware, but despite this, the game still sold better on PS4 than Xbox One on this chart. That’s noteworthy because this NPD list does not include bundled games. So it sounds like Sony made a wise investment when it decided to help co-market Arkham Knight.
“If sales were included from hardware bundles, Arkham Knight is the best-selling game of 2015 so far,” said the NPD analyst.
For the rest of the list, the console version of The Elder Scrolls Online had a decent debut. It shows that the Elder Scrolls universe still has a ton of appeal even for a massively multiplayer online game that people have already largely forgotten about on PC.
The other big new release was Lego: Jurassic World, which is riding the success of the massively successful film.
Returning champions for June include The Witcher 3 and Splatoon. Both debuted in May, but they’re back taking up the fourth and fifth spots on the above chart.
And then we have the games that the top 10 just can’t shake off: Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, Mortal Kmobat X, NBA 2K15, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Really, this month was dominated by publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which had four of the top 10 games.
“With hits like Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, Mortal Kombat X, and Dying Light, Warner Bros. Interactive is the top corporate publisher so far in 2015, with dollar sales growing 217 percent versus the first half of 2014,” said Callahan.
“Hardware sales grew by 8 percent overall,” said Callahan. “Eighth-generation consoles [like PS4 and Xbox One] are leading the way with 15 percent growth over June 2014, offsetting declines in seventh-generation and portable hardware sales.”
The NPD also points out that hardware sales have changed compared to last year. In June 2014, only 35 percent of all console sales were bundled with a game. That’s opposed to June 2015, where bundles made up 82 percent of all hardware sales.
And as we reported earlier today, Sony confirmed to GamesBeat that the PlayStation 4 was the top selling console for the month. That system has outsold Microsoft’s and Nintendo’s hardware every month this year except for one when the Xbox One took the title.
When we asked Nintendo for a comment, it provided the following statement:
“Through the first six months of 2015, combined sales of Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems have increased by more than 20 percent over the same time frame in 2014. Much of this growth can be attributed to Nintendo 3DS and the new momentum created by the launch of New Nintendo 3DS XL on Feb. 13. So far this year, sales of Nintendo 3DS hardware have increased by more than 40 percent over sales at the same point last year.”
Likewise, Microsoft provided a statement of its own:
“Xbox One and Xbox Live continue to see strong growth in sales and engagement. Xbox One sales in the U.S. were up 51 percent over June 2014 and active global Xbox Live users (Xbox One and Xbox 360) grew 22 percent.”