May was a relatively quiet month for new releases (it’s the calm before the storm of E3,) and while the industry suffered an overall decline in both software and hardware sales once again, a few companies did manage to generate some respectable sales during the month: WB Games’ Injustice proved that people never get tired of watching superheroes wail on each other, and Nintendo’s 3DS experienced a surprise surge in sales.
Games can’t get enough of NetherRealm Studios’ Injustice: Gods Among Us, as the superhero based fighting game managed to capture the top spot on the NPD’s best-sellers chart for the second month in a row. The last time a fighting game managed to top the NPD chart was 2011’s Mortal Kombat (also by NetherRealm,) and it seems like Injustice is on track to surpass MK’s success.
The only new console release from May to make it onto the NPD top 10 was 4A Games’ Metro Last Light, which came in 6th. The sequel to Metro 2033 was originally supposed to be published by THQ, but the rights to the game were sold to relatively new publisher Deep Silver following THQ’s bankruptcy earlier this year. 4A Games have announced that they’re currently working on a Playstation 4 port of the game, though it’s currently unknown if the next-gen version of the title will be released or if it’ll feature any new content or features. Late April release Dead Island: Riptide, also published by Deep Silver, managed to outsell Metro by a fair bit (despite receiving more mixed reviews,) and came in 4th .
The rest of the console releases on the NPD’s list are mostly hold-overs from earlier in the year or the last holiday season: there’s always a spot on the NPD charts for a CoD game, and Black Ops 2 managed to take 2nd place for the month. Irrational Games’ Bioshock Infinite managed to hang on for another month, coming in at 8th, just behind NBA 2K13, which continues to benefit from being the only new NBA game on the market.
The biggest surprise of the month comes on the hardware side, where Nintendo’s 3DS managed to become the top selling piece of gaming hardware in May. The Xbox 360 has been the best selling console every month for nearly two years straight, but the 3DS’s sudden, unexpected surge in popularity has put an end to the 360’s long winning streak. While Nintendo has yet to release specific numbers regarding the number of 3DS’ sold, they did release a statement to gloat, saying ““The launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns on May 23 and another strong month for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon helped Nintendo 3DS software sales in stores increase by more than 60 percent over the same time last year.”
It wasn’t too long ago that people were labeling the 3DS as a complete failure following its lackluster launch, but Nintendo has managed to pull a complete 180 with the 3DS: in the two years since its release, the 3DS has managed to sell a total of 31.09 million units so far, which means that the supposedly “dead” handheld is actually selling faster than the 360 and the PS3 did in the same amount of time. It remains to be seen if Nintendo can manage a similarly miraculous resurrection with the Wii U, which has been selling abysmally since it launched late last year and will face increasingly tough competition from the next-gen consoles this Fall.
Anyway, here’s the full top 10:
1. Injustice: Gods Among Us
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
3. Donkey Kong Country Returns
4. Dead Island: Riptide
5. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
6. Metro: Last Light
7. NBA 2K13
8. Bioshock Infinite
9. Battlefield 3
10. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
June should be an interesting month for NPD’s: besides seeing how the big announcements at E3 affect retail sales, it’ll be interesting to see how titles like Capcom’s Remember Me, Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Sony’s highly anticipated The Last of Us perform. Word is that Animal Crossing and The Last of Us are already selling extremely well, so hopefully next month’s NPD report will bring news of some positive growth for the industry instead of the steady decline that we’ve been hearing about for the last few months.