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Spending on video games in the United States for April dipped slightly compared to same period in 2020, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. But this is still a win for the industry. April 2020 saw a huge jump in revenue due to the growing number of stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic. So even a slight dip is a good sign for gamemakers that they were able to maintain much of that momentum.

“April 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories totaled $4.6 billion, a decline of 2% when compared to a year ago,” said NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella. “Year-to-date consumer spending reached $19.6 billion, 21% higher than the first four months of 2020.”

Here are the full results for April:

April 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions Apr 2020 Apr 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $4,721 $4,645 -2%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $4,082 $4,182 2%
Video Game Hardware $420 $296 -30%
Video Game Accessories $219 $168 -23%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Game content was the only category that saw growth, but that says little about demand for hardware — which still faces supply constraints. Hardware and accessories are down year-over-year because of a lack of supply.

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April 2020 also saw the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake as well as the continued blockbuster sales for Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. April 2021’s MLB: The Show 21, New Pokémon Snap, Nier: Replicant, and Returnal all did well compared to that tough 2020 comparison.

Here are the results for 2021 so far:

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions YTD 2020 YTD 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $16,202 $19,565 21%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $14,281 $16,980 19%
Video Game Hardware $1,198 $1,700 42%
Video Game Accessories $723 $885 22%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Let’s get to the software charts.

April 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.

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank April 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 NEW MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
2 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 NEW New Pokemon Snap* Nintendo
4 3 Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
5 NEW NieR: Replicant Square Enix Inc (Corp)
6 14 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
7 2 Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
8 NEW Returnal Sony (Corp)
9 22 It Takes Two Electronic Arts
10 6 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
11 11 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
12 5 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
13 4 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
14 10 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
15 8 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
16 9 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
17 12 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
18 7 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
19 13 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
20 16 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

As usual, Sony’s critically acclaimed baseball sim topped its launch month. MLB joined New Pokémon Snap, Nier: Replicant, and Returnal as new releases to crack the top 10.

Returnal is notable as an early PlayStation 5 exclusive. Sony has already sold millions of PS5s, but that is a fraction compared to the PS4’s potential audience of 115 million systems. But despite the limited audience, Returnal’s physical and digital sales outsold Mario Kart 8’s physical-only sales. And while that might seem like a grim comparison, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold more than 10 million copies in its third year on the market.

Another PlayStation game, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, meanwhile, dropped out of the top 10 after maintaining strong sales since its fall launch.

MLB: The Show 21

But Sony isn’t only about PlayStation games these days. The company’s MLB: The Show 21 launched on PlayStation and Xbox, and that led to record-setting sales for the franchise.

“MLB: The Show 21 debuted as both the best-selling game of April 2021 as well as the 3rd best-selling game of 2021 year to date,” said Piscatella. “Launch-month dollar sales of MLB The Show 21 set a new franchise high. MLB: The Show 21 was the best-selling game of the month on PlayStation platforms, and ranked second on Xbox [without digital Xbox sales].”

New Pokémon Snap

A new Pokémon game launched in April, and it did well — especially compared to its predecessor. New Pokémon Snap is the followup to the Nintendo 64 original, and this game is selling to a much larger audience. That’s true both in terms of Pokémon fans as well as Switch owners compared to the relatively small number of people who owned N64.

“New Pokémon Snap was the third best-selling game of April 2021 and was the month’s best-selling game on Nintendo platforms,” said Piscatella. “Launch-month physical sales of New Pokémon Snap more than doubled those of Pokémon Snap, which debuted on the Nintendo 64 in the July 1999 tracking month.”

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat continues to dominate the fighting-game space. While developer NetherRealm continues to live in limbo following AT&T’s decision to spin off Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Interactive to Discovery, the studio cannot help but make a lot of money. It jumped all the way to No. 6 on the April 2021 chart. It helps that a new Mortal Kombat movie came out in April as well.

“Mortal Kombat 11 placed among the top 10 best-sellers of the month for the first time since ranking ninth in July 2020,” said Piscatella. “Mortal Kombat 11 is currently the 13th best-selling game of 2021 year to date.”

It Takes Two

Electronic Arts’ bet on smaller, cooperative games also paid off.

“It Takes Two climbed to ninth on the April 2021 best-sellers chart after placing 22nd in its March debut month,” said Piscatella. “It Takes Two was the third best-selling game of April on Xbox platforms while ranking eighth on PlayStation.”

Top 10 best-selling games so far this year

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank Year-to-Date Ending April 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 NEW MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
4 4 Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
5 3 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Sony) Sony (Corp)
6 10 Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
7 5 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
8 6 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
9 7 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
10 9 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending April 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 Madden NFL 21 [EA Sports] Electronic Arts
3 4 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
4 3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 7 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
6 6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
7 8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
8 5 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Sony) Sony (Corp)
9 9 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
10 11 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

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

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

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

Rank Last Month Rank April 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW MLB: The Show 21 Sony (Corp)
2 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 NEW Returnal Sony (Corp)
4 3 Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
5 2 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Sony) Sony (Corp)
6 NEW NieR: Replicant Square Enix Inc (Corp)
7 10 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
8 13 It Takes Two Electronic Arts
9 6 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
10 8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

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

Rank Last Month Rank April 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 NEW MLB: The Show 21* Sony (Corp)
3 8 It Takes Two Electronic Arts
4 5 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
5 4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
6 3 Outriders Square Enix Inc (Corp)
7 2 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
8 NEW NieR: Replicant Square Enix Inc (Corp)
9 7 Forza Horizon 4 Microsoft (Corp)
10 41 Mortal Kombat 11 PE + Injustice 2 LE: Premier Fighter Bundle Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

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