Nathan Drake found a big ol’ bucket of gold doubloons for Sony Interactive Entertainment, as Uncharted looks like it sold a few PlayStation 4 consoles as well as a ton of copies of the blockbuster hit.
Consumers spent $528.6 million on new gaming-related products at physical retailers in the United States last month, according to tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 4 percent year-over-year from $509.3 million. This represents a bounce back after an April that was down 15 percent from April 2015. Software was up big thanks to a big push from some stellar new releases, but hardware and, surprisingly, accessories (which includes interactive toys like Amiibo) saw declines. Maybe Disney got out of Infinity at the right time.
Here are the numbers for May 2016:
- Hardware: $137.7 million (down 10 percent from $153.1 million in 2015)
- Software: $241.9 million (up 18 percent from $204.7 million in 2015)
- Accessories: $149 million (down 2 percent from $151.5 million in 2015)
May was one of the best months in a while for new game releases in terms of quality. Overwatch, Doom, and Uncharted 4 all launched to critical acclaim. And that doesn’t even take into account the debuts of Battleborn or Homefront: The Revolution — although the latter two did not meet the same effusive praise.
“New launches were a major driver of the growth seen in May 2016 compared to May 2015,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “Collectively, May 2016 new launches sold nearly double in unit sales and 108 percent more in dollars as new launches last May. These May 2016 launches represented 51 percent of overall new physical software sales for the month.”
Uncharted, Doom, Overwatch, and even Battleborn made a big impact. If you only look at Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U games, new physical software sales were up 50 percent year-over-year.
When it comes to hardware sales, the industry is seeing decline. In the past, that was because the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were dragging down the market. Those systems no longer have the same downward pull on year-over-year numbers, but the portables have replaced them as a point of friction.
“While hardware sales decreased by 10 percent overall, the majority of the decline in sales stemmed from portables, down $7.3 million and last-generation hardware, down $5 million,” said Callahan. “Current generation hardware unit sales were stable, but dollar sales decreased by 2 percent or $3 million due to a decrease in average price for these consoles.”
That average price is one of the key reasons that analysts think the upgraded PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems are likely and not because consoles aren’t selling. The reality is that both the PS4 and Xbox One are performing well.
“As we head into E3 2016, it is encouraging to see such a healthy install base of the Xbox One and PS4, which currently have 43 percent higher cumulative unit sales than their predecessors at the same point in their lifecycles,” said Callahan.
These monthly NPD reports only keep data on a small part of the industry. The firm gets its info from new sales made at physical U.S. retailers, so a lot of the $99.6 billion gaming industry isn’t represented here. But the report is still useful in that it informs the decision making at gaming’s biggest publishers.
Now, to the charts.
The order of the platforms in parenthesis indicates which version sold the best.
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)
- Doom (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Overwatch (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Minecraft (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
- Dark Souls III (PS4, Xbox One)
Uncharted 4 was a huge success for Sony and the PlayStation 4. It led May, which is always impressive for a single-platform release going up against games like Doom that are on both PS4 and Xbox One. The action-adventure game was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and that translated into huge sales for both the game itself and the hardware.
“Uncharted 4 also marked the best first month of sales for any game in the Uncharted series after Uncharted 3, which is remarkable given the fact that it launched during the holiday period in November 2011,” said Callahan. “The success of Uncharted helped Sony rank as the leading software publisher for May 2016.”
But I think the clearest indicator that Uncharted 4 was a mammoth success is Minecraft.
For the first time ever, the PlayStation 4 version of Minecraft (May’s sixth best-selling game) outsold the other platforms, including Xbox 360. This could because consumers decided to pick up Minecraft for $20 with the new PS4 they bought to play Uncharted 4.
In fact, every game on this list sold better on PS4 than Xbox One except for Call of Duty.
Doom and Overwatch round out the top three — although Overwatch probably sold a ton on PC through publisher Blizzard’s Battle.net, as the company said it had 7 million players a week in its first week. Also, it debuted much later in the month. It’s actually selling much more quickly than Doom on cosoles.
“Doom ranked second for May 2016 sales on a unit basis and had the best first month of sales for any game in the franchise when combining sales across platforms — exceeding sales of Doom 3’s launch on the PC in August 2004,” said Callahan. “Overwatch was the third best-selling game for May with only a few days on the market. When comparing Overwatch sales for days in the market, this title doubled the sales of Doom.”
Finally, the NPD analyst shared that despite not having a game on the May chart, Ubisoft is having a strong 2016.
“Year to date, driven by the success of Tom Clancy’s The Division, Ubisoft is the top-selling software publisher,” he said.
Sony declined to comment on the NPDs this month, but Microsoft did not say that the Xbox One outsold the PS4 in its note. Microsoft did note that it is seeing a growth in player engagement year-over-year.
“In May 2016, gaming hours on Xbox One more than doubled compared to last year, driven by the launches of Overwatch and Doom as well as the addition of Call of Duty: Black Ops to the catalog of Xbox 360 titles playable on Xbox One,” Xbox marketing vice president Mike Nichols said in a statement provided to GamesBeat.
GamesBeat also reached out to Nintendo, but it did not share details about its hardware sales.