Recently, the NPD Group reported U.S. games industry sales for the period of March 1 to April 4. According to Liam Callahan, director, games industry analyst, hardware unit sales decreased by 9 percent, and with average prices down 13 percent across all platforms, dollar sales decreased by 21 percent.
Console hardware was the primary culprit responsible for the March sales decline, with a decrease of 29 percent, or $104 million, in spending while portable hardware rose by 71 percent over the prior year. This marks the 17th month of sales for the Xbox One and PS4, the combined cumulative hardware sales of which are over 50 percent higher than the combined seventeen-month cumulative sales totals for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Physical software sales decreased by 6 percent from March of last year as strong growth of eighth generation consoles—PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U—helped to partially offset the sharp declines of seventh generation consoles, down 52 percent, and physical PC games, down 64 percent. A bright light in the portable space was the increase in 3DS software sales of over 20 percent from March of last year.
March software sales showed growth across all three eighth generation consoles, collectively increasing by 58 percent versus March of last year. This is a sign of the health of the eight generation console space; especially when considering the strong software releases, by comparison, of Titanfall and inFamous: Second Son during March of last year.
One factor in the decline of total new physical sales in March was the 16 percent decrease of new releases sales compared to games launched in March of last year. The launch of Bloodborne ranked as second overall in software sales this month, but also has the second highest sales for the debut month of a first-party game on the PS4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mark 3D, for the 3DS, would be in the top ten software list when ranked on a SKU basis rather than a title basis.
Accessory sales rose by 15 percent, with increases over March of last year in video game point and subscription cards, game pads, and interactive gaming toys. Collectively, these three types of accessories represented the majority of the increase in the dollar growth in accessory spending over last year.
This March marked the best-selling March for video game point and subscription cards, and was also one of the best months on record (sixth best) for point cards.