2012 is off to a slow start for the games industry, as recently released NPD sales data seems to show: while EA’s Kingdoms of Amalur and the launch of Sony’s Playstation Vita helped make February a more profitable month than January, overall sales of both software and hardware nationwide were well below last year’s numbers.
While Kingdoms of Amalur sold decently (especially when you consider it’s an original IP,) it finished in fourth place this month, conceding the top 3 spots to sequels: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the top seller again in February, proving once again that Americans can’t get enough of their shootan’ games. Final Fantasy XIII-2 managed to take second place with over 340,000 units sold since it was released near the end of January. While that’s a healthy sales number by most standards, it’s worth noting that FFXIII-2’s sales are significant drop from the original Final Fantasy XIII, which managed to shift over a million copies in its first month. Obviously XIII-2 has suffered at retail because of the stigma now attached to the Final Fantasy brand. The top 3 was rounded out by THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3. It’s worth noting that while EA’s SSX reboot was released in February, it came out 1 day before the sales data for the month was collected, so it’s notably absent from the charts but should hopefully make an appearance on the March NPD.
The Playstation Vita launched in the West in February as well, and it seems like its receiving a warmer reception in America and Europe than it did in Japan. Despite a faster adoption rate on American shores, no Vita games managed to crack the top 10 sales chart this month, though Sony did say that Uncharted: Golden Abyss was the best selling launch title, much to the surprise of nobody. While Uncharted’s success was expected, I recommend that anybody with a Vita pick up Lumines: Electric Symphony if you haven’t done so already. I only played a bit of it on a friend’s Vita, but that was enough to convince me to pick up Q Games’ latest rhythm puzzler the moment I finally cave in and buy a Vita.
Despite the release of some worthwhile games and the highly anticpated launch of the Vita, overall sales were down from last year, with software sales dropping a painful 20 percent.
Hopefully March will be a more fruitful month for the gaming industry; by all accounts, both Mass Effect 3 (the Collector’s Edition at least is seemingly sold out everywhere,) and Street Fighter X Tekken seem to be selling pretty well. With upcoming releases like Xenoblade Chronicles and Max Payne 3 this Spring, and highly anticipated sequels like Resident Evil 6, Halo 4, Bioshock Infinite, and Assassin’s Creed III this Fall, I’m sure the gaming industry will be able recover from this relatively slow start to 2012.