Retail tracking service NPD has released their monthly sales data, and as expected, Mass Effect 3 was March’s biggest hit. Despite Bioware’s success, overall sales in the games industry continued to decline.
Mass Effect 3 sold 1.3 million copies in March, meaning it’s selling almost three times faster than Mass Effect 2, which managed to sell a respectable half-a-million copies when it was originally released. Of the 1.3 million copies of ME3 sold, the majority of them (approximately 943,000 of them) were for the Xbox 360 version.
Despite taking the gold for the month, EA wasn’t entirely happy with the NPD’s assessment. A representative for EA told the press that “We think the monthly NPD reports are a very poor indicator of the industry’s performance given the proportion of digital sales…” EA went on to imply that Mass Effect 3 also enjoyed strong sales via digital distribution over PSN and EA’s own Origin service on PC, meaning that Mass Effect 3 may have actually sold a good deal more than the NPD’s already impressive numbers (the NPD doesn’t track digital sales.)
Capcom’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City managed to take second place in March, despite poor word of mouth from fans of the series and even poorer reviews from the gaming press. Sony’s latest baseball sim MLB 12: The Show made a surprisingly strong showing and managed to take third place.
As for other new games, EA’s SSX reboot managed to take fifth place while Capcom’s latest fighting crossover, Street Fighter x Tekken, came in sixth. Nintendo showed that people still want to party with Mario, as Mario Party 9 managed to give the Wii a rare appearance on the NPD list by charting at number 7. 3DS killer app Kid Icarus had a respectable debut with 140,000 copies sold, but didn’t manage to crack the top 10 for this month. The full top 10 is as follows:
- Mass Effect 3 (360, PS3, PC)
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (360, PS3)
- MLB 12: The Show (PS3, Vita)
- NBA 2k12 (360, PS3, Wii, PC… and PS2, strangely enough.)
- SSX (360, PS3)
- Street Fighter X Tekken (360, PS3)
- Mario Party 9 (Wii)
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, PC, Wii)
- Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja (360, PS3)
- MLB 2k12 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)
In terms of hardware sold, the Xbox 360 was once again the best selling system of the month, with over 371,000 new Xboxes sold.
Despite the strong performance from a handful of big-name titles, overall sales were down from last year by 25 percent. Sales of fully priced, retail games have been on a steady decline for the last few months, and we’ve already seen how slow-sales have affected companies like Sega, Sony, and THQ, who were forced to lay-off a substantial amount of their employees earlier in the month.
It’ll be interesting to see how the April NPD’s turn out — this month doesn’t have any huge releases on par with Mass Effect 3, so it might be another lean month for the games industry. Nintendo has finally released Xenoblade in America, and it’ll be interesting to see if all the gamers who petitioned for it’s release put their money where their mouth was. I’m enjoying the game immensely myself (expect a review soon,) so I hope it sells well enough to convince Nintendo that there’s still money to be made by appealing to their core fan base. Other big-ish April releases include The Witcher 2 and Prototype 2 which, while not huge events on par with Mass Effect, will hopefully manage to find an audience during the April drought. Remember, Diablo 3 is a little more than a month away, so perhaps this current quiet period is just the calm before the storm.