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July 2020 NPD: Paper Mario and Ghost of Tsushima have strong debuts

This is what Nintendo is saying to all of its $50 bills.

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Consumers are still turning to video games for their entertainment in the United States. While hardware sales have come back to Earth after a peaking sharply during the early parts of the pandemic, game content helped push total spending to $3.6 billion during July, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.

July 2020 Dollar Sales, Millions Jul’19 Jul’20 Change
Total Video Game Sales $2,723 $3,587 32%
Video Game Hardware $170 $166 -2%
Video Game Content (Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms) $2,426 $3,251 34%
Video Game Accessories $127 $170 34%

This is also the first month that the NPD is sharing a new metric called “Video Game Content.” Where the company previously only publicly shared full-game software sales, it’s now combining that with spending on microtransactions, downloadable content, subscriptions, and more.

“Consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories totaled $3.6 billion in July 2020, increasing 32% when compared to a year ago,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Double-digit percentage spending gains in accessories, subscription, mobile, and both digital full game as well as post launch spending on console and PC offset a slight decline in hardware.”

For the year so far, spending on games continues to track significantly ahead of 2019, thanks in part to the pandemic.

“Year-to-date spending reached $26 billion, 21% higher than the same period in 2019,” Piscatella said. “Content, hardware, and accessory spending are each over 20% higher when compared to the same period a year ago.”

And as many people continue to stay home, digital spending is growing even faster.

“Digital content spending — which includes full game downloads, post launch content, mobile and subscription spending — increased 41%,” Piscatella said. “Year-to-date 2020 content spending reached $23 billion, a 21% increase when compared to the same period a year ago. While spending has increased across all digital content segments, the strongest gains have been achieved in digital content spending on console platforms.”

Let’s take a look at the best-selling games.

Software

NPD tracks physical sales at retailers, but it also gets digital data directly from publishers. But not every company participates. For example, Nintendo doesn’t share its first-party digital sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales. This chart also does not include microtransactions, subscriptions, or anything beyond full-game sales. With those caveats in mind, it is best to think of this as a very useful snapshot of a much more dynamic industry.

  1. Ghost of Tsushima
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  3. Paper Mario: The Origami King*
  4. The Last of Us: Part II
  5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  6. Ring Fit Adventure
  7. Mortal Kombat 11
  8. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  10. Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris
  11. Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition
  12. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  13. Rainbow Six: Siege [Tom Clancy’s]
  14. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  15. MLB: The Show 20
  16. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  17. Need for Speed: Heat
  18. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  19. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  20. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

*Does not include Nintendo eShop digital sales

Ghost of Tsushima

PlayStation 4’s latest exclusive caught on with fans. This almost feels like Sucker Punch’s Horizon Zero Dawn moment where it sets itself on a new course with a new franchise.

“Ghost of Tsushima was July’s best-selling title,” Piscatella said. “Ghost of Tsushima is developer Sucker Punch Productions’ fastest selling release in history. Ghost of Tsushima also debuts as 2020’s fifth best-selling game year-to-date.”

Paper Mario: The Origami King

While some were skeptical that the newest Paper Mario would finish its launch month high on the chart, they were wrong. Like other recent Switch releases, The Origami King capitalized on the software-hungry Nintendo audience.

“Paper Mario: The Origami King was the third-best-selling game of July,” Piscatella said. “Paper Mario: The Origami King set a new launch month sales record for a Paper Mario title, with physical launch month dollar sales more than doubling those of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.”

The Last of Us: Part II

“The Last of Us: Part II was July’s fourth-best-selling title, and it remains the third best-selling game of 2020 year-to-date. Life-to-date dollar sales of The Last of Us: Part II are now the 3rd highest for a Sony published game in history, trailing only Marvel’s Spider-Man and 2018’s God of War.”

Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris

“Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris debuted at No. 10 on July’s best-selling titles chart,” Piscatella said. “It is the highest ranked placement for a Sword Art Online title in history. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet placed as the 14th best-selling title in its February 2018 launch month.”

Top 10 best-selling games so far this year

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  3. The Last of Us: Part II
  4. Final Fantasy VII: Remake
  5. Ghost of Tsushima
  6. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  7. MLB: The Show 20
  8. Resident Evil 3
  9. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  10. Mortal Kombat 11

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  2. Madden NFL 20
  3. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order
  4. NBA 2K20*
  5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  6. The Last of Us: Part II
  7. FIFA 20
  8. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  9. Pokémon: Sword*
  10. Luigi’s Mansion 3*

Top 10 Xbox One games for July 2020

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  2. Mortal Kombat 11
  3. Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris
  4. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition
  5. Ghost Recon: Breakpoint [Tom Clancy’s]
  6. Rainbow Six: Siege [Tom Clancy’s]
  7. Forza Horizon 4
  8. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order
  9. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  10. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Top 10 PS4 games for July 2020

  1. Ghost of Tsushima
  2. The Last of Us: Part II
  3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  4. Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition
  5. MLB: The Show 20
  6. Mortal Kombat 11
  7. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  8. Need for Speed: Heat
  9. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order
  10. Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris

Top 10 Nintendo Switch games for July 2020

  1. Paper Mario: The Origami King*
  2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons*
  3. Ring Fit Adventure
  4. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  7. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  8. Super Mario Odyssey*
  9. Super Mario Party*
  10. Pokémon: Sword*

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