It was a good month for Final Fantasy and Pokémon, but video game sales continue to see overall declines.
The video game industry generated $2.8 billion in revenues in the United States in December, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That is down 15 percent from the same period last year, despite new versions of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S, appearing on the market. All four aspects of the industry that The NPD Group covers — hardware, console software, PC software, and accessories — were down.
December 2016 results
NPD’s data tracks game sales at physical retailers and some online stores in the U.S. These sales figures include data from the Xbox Game Store, the PlayStation Game Store, and Steam, but only certain publishers share their results with the NPD (you won’t find Blizzard Entertainment’s Battle.net store, for starters). This makes these numbers a snapshot of a larger industry that is far more dynamic.
- Hardware December 2016: $994.9M million (down 20 percent) December 2015: $1.24 billion
- Console software December 2016: $1.19 billion (down 12 percent) December 2015: $1.35 billion
- PC software December 2016: $45.8 million (down 13 percent) December 2015: $52.9 million
- Accessories December 2016: $547.6 million (down 15 percent) December 2015: $640.7 million
Here is the top 10 for the month of December. It includes physical sales as well as some digital sales.
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Final Fantasy XV
- Battlefield 1
- Madden NFL 17
- NBA 2K17
- Watch Dogs 2
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Pokémon Sun*
- FIFA 17
- Pokémon Moon*
*No digital sales counted for this game.
“Final Fantasy XV was the second best-selling title for December 2016, and was the top-selling title on the PS4,” NPD analyst Sam Naji explained in a statement. “Final Fantasy XV experienced the best console launch month in the history of the franchise (since tracking began in 1995) selling 19 percent more new physical units than Final Fantasy XIII in its launch month and 54 percent more in total dollar revenue including digital full game sales.”
NPD noted that Pokémon Sun and Moon combined sales are the best for the franchise since 2007’s Diamond and Pearl, while a Call of Duty game was in the top spot for ninth year in a row.
Otherwise, you see a lot of usual holiday suspects: Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden, NBA 2K, Grand Theft Auto V, and FIFA. These franchises have become reliable money-makers for their publishers. Ubisoft’s open-world hacking game, Watch Dogs 2, also appeared on the list in the No. 6 spot following its release on November 15.
The PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console of the month, with the PlayStation 4 Slim System 500GB Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Bundle performing the best. However, the Xbox One saw a 10 percent increase in the number of consoles sold over the same period last year.
Sales of Nintendo’s nostalgic NES Classic Edition were up 14 percent compared to November, its debut month that saw it move 196,000 consoles. Meanwhile, Pokémon helped the aging 3DS portable grow its sales by 2 percent from December 2015.
“Unfortunately, the release of the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro did not generate dollar spending growth,” Naji said. “Although the combined ARP for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 systems decreased by 15 percent, consumers bought 7 percent fewer units.”