December was strong for some of the year’s biggest releases.
New video games sold at U.S. retailers made $3.22 billion last month, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s down 1 percent from $3.26 billion in 2014. Both hardware and software sales were down — although, as usual, that was likely primarily from sluggish revenues from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Accessories, which includes Amiibo, Lego Dimensions, and more, grew by 10 percent.
“For December 2015, the 6 percent decrease in hardware sales versus December 2014 was driven by a 71 percent drop in [Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii] hardware,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan explained. “As well as the 32 percent decrease in portable hardware.”
All of that offset a 4 percent increase in spending on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
That positive trend for the newer systems also held true for software.
“December 2015 was the best month on record for PS4 and Xbox One, and the second-best for the Wii U in terms of new physical software unit sales,” said Callahan. “This also meant that it was the best month of total eighth generation new physical software sales.”
As always, we need to point out that NPD does not track everything in gaming. It does not include used games or digital sales in these figures. It also doesn’t have any data from countries outside of the United States. With that in mind, you should take this information as a decent understanding of the way a bigger and more dynamic market works.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the sales chart.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
- Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Madden NFL 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
- Minecraft (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
- Minecraft: Story Mode: A Telltale Game Series (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
- FIFA 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
December, as always, belonged to Call of Duty. The franchise is on a seven-year streak of dominating these charts with only Grand Theft Auto V’s original 2013 release ever matching it. And it’s here yet again.
Star Wars, however, is not usually here. But EA’s Battlefront got an obvious boost from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is the top-grossing film in U.S. history.
The rest of the list is Fallout 4, sports games, and beloved favorites like GTA V and Minecraft. Clearly, people were scooping up recognizable franchises in December as gifts or to go with their new systems.
The most interesting thing about this list is that Call of Duty and Star Wars both sold better on Xbox One than on PlayStation 4. This makes it seem like that system still has a huge, game-buying audience — even if it can’t quite keep up with the PS4 in terms of raw hardware numbers.
The PlayStation 4 outsold Xbox One and Wii U in December. That makes it the best-selling system of the year by a wide margin..
Microsoft did provide the following statement:
“Thanks to our fans, continued support for the most critically-acclaimed holiday lineup of exclusives in Xbox history made December 2015 the best month yet for Xbox Live global engagement and Xbox One sales in the U.S. The total number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One worldwide nearly doubled compared to December 2014 and Xbox One exclusive game sales in the U.S. between July and December 2015 were up 61 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Revenue from Xbox Store’s Countdown, the biggest Xbox Store sale ever, broke records with 69 percent growth year-over-year when compared to results from last year’s sale. Xbox One is the best place for gamers and the only console that has all top 10 best-selling titles of this generation that launched in 2015.”
NPD’s Callahan explained that both Microsoft and Sony are doing well.
“After 26 months of sales, the combined cumulative sales of Xbox One and PS4 exceeds the 26 month total of the PS3 and Xbox 360 by 47 percent,” said Callahan. “The lead from the prior generation has expanded due to the strong PS4 and Xbox One 2015 holiday, going from 38 percent by the end of October, growing to 47 percent by the end of November, and maintaining 47 percent higher sales by the end of December.”