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Video games sales continue to grow as the pandemic drags on, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. The March 2021 NPD game report is the first time that a year-over-year comparison will take early stay-at-home orders into affect.

“March 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached a March record $5.6 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.”[That is] 18% higher when compared to a year ago.”

Total Video Game Sales $4,762 $5,608 18%
Video Game Hardware $463 $680 47%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $4,062 $4,628 14%
Video Game Accessories $238 $300 26%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

And through the first three months of 2021, the industry is tracking well ahead of 2020.

“First quarter consumer spending totaled $14.9 billion, 30% higher than 2020’s first quarter,” said Piscatella.

That makes sense considering the pandemic, which boosted spending on video games, didn’t get started in earnest until late March. This year also has new hardware from Sony and Microsoft.

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions YTD 2020 YTD 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $11,480 $14,920 30%
Video Game Hardware $778 $1,405 81%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $10,199 $12,798 25%
Video Game Accessories $504 $717 42%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Let’s get to the software charts.

March 2021 NPD: The top 20 best-selling games of the month in the U.S.

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 sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales.

These charts are sorted by dollar sales — not number of units sold. And this is for full-game sales and does not include in-game spending. 

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 2 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 1 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
5 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
6 9 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
7 7 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
8 10 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
9 16 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
10 8 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
11 11 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
12 14 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
13 19 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
14 15 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 65 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Activision Blizzard (Corp)
16 20 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
17 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
18 13 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
19 22 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 12 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

When it comes to software, Switch is still one of the biggest stories. Nintendo published seven of the top 20 highest-selling games in March. But Monster Hunter: Rise is a Switch exclusive, and Crash Bandicoot 4 is back in the top 20 thanks to its Switch version.

While PlayStation 5 and Xbox are building up an audience, Nintendo is cashing in on a very successful generation.

Let’s see what Piscatella has to say about the games.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty maintained its evergreen status in March.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War returned to the top of the monthly best-sellers chart in March,” said Piscatella. “Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War was also the best-selling title of both the first quarter as well as the 12-month period ending March.”

Monster Hunter: Rise

In terms of new games, Monster Hunter: Rise was the big one for the month. It outsold everything except for Call of Duty.

“Monster Hunter: Rise debuted as March’s second best-seller, while also ranking first on Switch,” said Piscatella. “With just one month on the market, lifetime dollar sales of Monster Hunter: Rise rank second among all Monster Hunter franchise releases, trailing only Monster Hunter: World.”

Outriders

Despite also launching at no extra cost for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on Xbox, the online cooperative shooter Outriders also had a strong debut.

“Outriders launched as the third best-selling game of March,” said Piscatella. “Outriders ranked as the No. 3 best-selling game on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms.”

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, meanwhile, is the Call of Duty of mascot racers.

“Mario Kart 8 placed sixth on the March 2021 best-sellers chart,” said Piscatella. “Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling racing-genre video game in U.S. history.”

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Activision didn’t only have Call of Duty in the top 20. Crash found his way back into the top 20 thanks to the Switch.

“The March launch of the Switch version of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time helped the title rise to No. 15 on the March best-sellers chart after placing 65th in February,” said Piscatella.

Top 20 best-selling games of 2021 so far

Rank Year-to-Date Ending March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
3 3 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
4 NEW Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
5 4 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
6 7 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
7 6 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
8 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
9 8 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
10 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
3 2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
4 5 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
5 6 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
6 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
7 7 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
8 8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
9 9 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
10 10 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

March 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
2 1 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
3 2 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
4 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
5 5 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
6 4 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
7 7 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
8 8 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
9 10 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
10 16 Luigi’s Mansion 3* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

March 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation-platform games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 5 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
5 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
6 9 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 6 Minecraft Microsoft (Corp)
8 11 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
9 7 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
10 12 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

March 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox-platform games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank March 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 NEW Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
4 4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 9 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
6 2 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
7 6 Forza Horizon 4 Microsoft (Corp)
8 NEW It Takes Two Electronic Arts
9 16 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix Inc (Corp)
10 22 Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
* Digital sales not included

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