Purchasing hardware is out of fashion for the U.S. console-gaming market, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have grown old, and their sales are on the decline. The significantly younger Nintendo Switch, however, continues to dominate.
“Nintendo Switch was again the best-selling hardware platform of November and remains the best-selling platform of 2019,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Hardware spending in November 2019 declined 26 percent when compared to a year ago, to $891 million. Year-to-date hardware spending has fallen 24 percent versus year ago, to $2.9 billion.”
This decline in hardware spending is natural for cyclical console business. Xbox One and PS4 both debuted in 2013. New consoles from both Microsoft and Sony are coming holiday 2020. And the casual audience that once showed up for cheap consoles in the later days of the PlayStation 2 are more likely to spend that money on new iPhones these days.
But when the new systems do debut, they will likely fly off shelves — as long as they aren’t $700.
November 2019 NPD accessories
As for the other hardware category, accessory sales are finally starting to fall back to reality.
“Total November 2019 spending on Accessories and Game Cards fell 14% when compared to a year ago, to $433 million,” said Piscatella. “Year-to-date sales of Accessories and Game Cards are down 5% when compared to a year ago, to $3.2 billion.”
This decline likely has multiple factors. For one, if fewer people are buying hardware, that means fewer people are picking up game cards to buy games digitally at the same time. But those game cards also represent less spending on in-game digital items in free-to-play games. Holiday 2018 was a huge time for Fortnite, and that momentum has dwindled throughout 2019.
But what hasn’t dwindled is the excitement for Microsoft’s premium gamepads.
“The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 drove the highest dollar sales of any accessory in November,” said Piscatella. “The PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black remains the best-selling accessory year to date.”