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The launch of a new Nintendo console has revitalized consumer spending for the gaming industry.

People in the United States dropped $1.36 billion on gaming-related hardware, software, and accessories last month, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 24 percent year-over-year from $1.09 billion. Naturally, the Switch and Zelda were major contributors to that success. But Ubisoft also saw success with the introduction of a new Tom Clancy shooter series.

March results

  • Hardware: $485 million (up 91 percent from $235 million in March 2017)
  • Console software: $612 million (up 5 percent from $585 million)
  • PC software: $29 million (down 25 percent from $39 million)
  • Accessories: $231 million (up 9 percent from $213 million)

“Total video game spending, which includes hardware, software and accessories, had a stellar month in spending growth thanks to the release of the Nintendo Switch and new titles including Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Mass Effect: Andromeda,” NPD analyst Sam Naji explained. “Spending grew by 24 percent compared to last year to over $1.3 billion.”

Nintendo returning to the market with a competitive console also put something of a finger in a leaking dam, as this was the first time after nine straight months that the total physical game sales didn’t decline year-over-year.


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Let’s get to the software charts.


NPD tracks software sales physically and digitally, but it doesn’t have the full digital picture. It only has certain publishers on certain platforms. Notable omissions include Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo first-party sales through their own stores.


  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  4. Horizon Zero Dawn*
  5. MLB 17: The Show*
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. For Honor
  8. NBA 2K17
  9. Nier: Automata
  10. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  11. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  12. Battlefield 1
  13. 1-2 Switch*
  14. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  15. Overwatch
  16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  17. Super Bomberman R*
  18. Fifa 17
  19. Lego Worlds
  20. Madden NFL 17

*No digital sales

Yes. Zelda couldn’t outsell the multiplatform Wildlands that launches on consoles with a massive owner base, but it still did extraordinary.

“Nintendo continued to break records in physical software as well as hardware,” said Naji. “Switch’s packaged software sold 1.3 million units, a record high for a Nintendo platform launch and the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold over 900,000 packaged units in the launch month. This resulted with an attach rate of 99 percent to the Switch hardware. This is the highest attach rate for any non-bundled title for a new gaming platform since NPD began tracking in 1995.”

And again, this doesn’t include any digital sales — although NPD wasn’t surprised at the success of Breath of the Wild.

“As a property, Zelda has been around in the U.S. since 1987,” said Naji. “NPD’s tracked sales for the Zelda franchise has recorded physical sales of just under $1.4 billion in revenue from 1995 to the present. And Zelda is the top-selling property of all time within the adventure super-genre, selling 54 percent more revenue than the next best-selling franchise, Resident Evil.”

Outside of Zelda, the only other Nintendo game in the top 20 is the 1-2 Switch party game. It landed at No. 13, and it had an attach rate to the Switch of 19 percent.

Obviously, Ubisoft also had a strong showing in March with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

“[Wildlands] had the best launch of any Ghost Recon title,” said Sam Naji. “And, after Tom Clancy’s The Division, it was the second best launch of any Tom Clancy game.”

This proves the ongoing power of the Tom Clancy brand, which Ubisoft has capitalized on for decades.

Mass Effect, meanwhile, saw some slippage from the third entry in the series to the fourth; and Horizon: Zero Dawn was a huge lift for developer Guerrilla Games over its previous releases.

“Mass Effect: Andromeda, the third best-selling title in March 2017, had the second-best launch in the series, behind Mass Effect 3,” said Naji. “And Horizon: Zero Dawn was the fourth best-selling title for the month. Developed by Guerrilla games, this was the developer’s best launch ever — with it selling twice as much as its next best title, Killzone: Shadow Fall.”

Now, here’s a look at the top 10 best-selling games by platform:

Xbox One

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  3. For Honor
  4. NBA 2K17
  5. Grand Theft Auto V
  6. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  7. Battlefield 1
  8. Halo Wars 2
  9. Overwatch
  10. Forza Horizon 3

PlayStation 4

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn*
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  4. MLB 17: The Show*
  5. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  6. Nier: Automata
  7. Grand Theft Auto V
  8. NBA 2K17
  9. For Honor
  10. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Nintendo Switch

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  2. 1-2 Switch*
  3. Super Bomberman R*
  4. Just Dance 2017*
  5. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth +*
  6. Skylanders: Imaginators*

Wii U

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD*
  3. Super Smash Bros.*
  4. Minecraft*
  5. Paper Mario: Color Splash*
  6. Pokken Tournament*
  7. New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U*
  8. Super Mario Maker*
  9. Yoshi’s Wooly World*
  10. Splatoon*


  1. Pokemon Sun*
  2. Pokemon Moon*
  3. Super Mario Maker*
  4. Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World*
  5. Mario Sports Superstars*
  6. Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns*
  7. Super Smash Bros.*
  8. Mario Kart 7*
  9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D*
  10. New Super Mario Bros. 2*

Top 10 best-selling games of 2017 as of March

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. For Honor
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  5. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Horizon Zero Dawn
  8. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  9. NBA 2K17
  10. Battlefield 1


Nintendo Switch was the top-selling console of the month, and the publisher separately confirmed it is its fastest-selling system ever in the U.S. That helped revenues for the industry tremendously.

“Hardware spending almost doubled compared to a year ago to $485 million,” said Naji. “March 2017 will go down in history books as the month Nintendo broke records. The Nintendo Switch had the biggest hardware launch for a Nintendo platform and the second biggest launch for any video game platform since 1995, the time NPD began tracking this category.”

To put it in some perspective, the Switch sold 31,000 more units than the Game Boy Advance did during its June 2001 launch. That was Nintendo’s previous record until last month.


The Switch also gave a boost to accessories as well.

“Total spend on accessories and game currency cards grew 9 percent compared to last year to $231 million,” said Naji. “Accessories associated with the Nintendo Switch accounted for one quarter of total console accessory spending for the month.”

Nintendo’s Pro Controller was also the top-selling gamepad of the month, and it helped increase sales for that category by 26 percent year-over-year.

Finally, Zelda-related Amiibos helped out the interactive-toy category.

“Although interactive gaming toy sales were down 38 percent for the month compared to this time last year the popularity of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Amiibo 1 Character Pack accounted for 43 percent of total Interactive Gaming Toy spending,” said Naji. “This was enough to increase sales in Amiibos by 56 percent year-on-year.”

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