In the first month that industry-tracking firm The NPD Group has ever included digital sales, the industry is down big.
Consumers spent $652.2 million on video game-related products in the United States in June, according to the latest report from NPD. That’s down 22 percent from $878.7 million in June 2015. Hardware, software, and accessories were all down.
Here are the numbers for June 2016:
- Hardware: $181.5 million (down 42 percent year-over-year from $313.1 million)
- Home console and handheld software: $322 million (down 20 percent year-over-year from $402.7 million)
- Physical and Steam PC software: $27.8 million (down 20 percent year-over-year from $34.8 million)
- Accessories: $120.9 million (down 6 percent year-over-year from $129.1 million)
These sales include physical stores as well as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam games — although NPD does not have data from every publisher or alternative PC stores like EA’s Origin or Ubisoft’s Uplay. Because of that, these charts are not meant to represent the totality of the market. Instead, NPD is positioning this as a snapshot of a wider industry.
In that snapshot, we can still see that the market went through a major contraction in June when compared to June 2015. This is largely due to a tough comparison to last year, as Batman: Arkham Knight debuted. But gamers could also be holding off on making major purchases while Sony and Microsoft prepare to roll out their revamped and revised consoles.
“Poor comparisons to last June, where software and hardware sales were bolstered by strong launches like Batman: Arkham Knight, led to a sharp 26 percent year-over-year decline in overall spending across software, hardware and accessories,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “Hardware’s drop in sales represented 58 percent of the overall decline in dollar volume compared to last June.”
New games in June 2016 really didn’t do much to compare to Batman in 2015.
“Poor comparisons for new launches were a major reason for the software sales decline seen this June,” said Callahan. “June 2016 launches decreased 67 percent, translating to 1.8 million fewer units, and nearly $114 million fewer dollars.”
The big new games last month were Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. They were not blockbuster releases.
“Specifically, the top new launch of June 2015 was Batman: Arkham Knight, which sold over five times the amount of unit and dollar sales generated by the top June 2016 new launch, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Callahan.
Hardware, however, performed even worse.
“Declines in average prices by 15 percent, coupled with a 32 percent decline in units resulted in hardware spending totaling $181 million, a 42 percent decrease versus last June,” the NPD analyst explained. “[Current-generation] hardware, the primary driver of this decrease, saw sales decline 43 percent, or $117 million.”
Once again, those sales numbers are the reason Microsoft is launching the slimmer Xbox One S in August and why Sony is planning to launch the more powerful code-named PlayStation 4 Neo sometime soon.
This chart is a little bit different than normal. It now includes digital sales from Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam for the following publishers: Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Deep Silver, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. It no longer shows which platform sold the best. This is now also ranked by revenues and not unit sales, unlike previous months.
With that in mind, here’s the chart:
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Doom 2016**
- Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End**
- NBA 2K16
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III
- Destiny: The Taken King
*No Battle.net sales
**No digital sales
The big winner for June was Overwatch, which was also May’s top-selling game when you include digital. And that wasn’t the only game to have a strong second month this summer.
“The second month for May launches fared better [than new releases] supported by games like Overwatch and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End,” said Callahan. “May 2016 launches sold 84 percent more in June compared to May 2015 launches last June, when looking at dollar sales. April launches fared poorly due to a comparison to the performance of April 2015 launches like Mortal Kombat X with a drop of 70 percent in June sales.”
Doom was another May release that did well.
But, as always, it’s the perennial performers that fill out the rest of the top 10. Grand Theft Auto V is now almost a full three years old, and it continues to outsell most other games at No. 2. The latest NBA 2K and Call of Duty, Destiny, and Minecraft round out the bottom four.
The PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console of June, according to Sony. The company has come in at No. 1 every month since October 2015.
In its quarterly financial report, Microsoft separately noted that its gaming revenues were down 9 percent due during the three-month period from April through June due to a decrease in Xbox console sales.
NPD, however, notes Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sales are still much brisker than the previous generation.
“After 32 months since the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One, the combined cumulative hardware sales for these two consoles exceed the sales of their predecessors by 40 percent at the same point in their lifecycles,” said Callahan.
In two months, we should start to see some interesting changes to these hardware figures as Microsoft launches the Xbox One S. That revision could convince some current Xbox One owners to upgrade while others may make it their first Xbox purchase this generation.