The NPD Group has released their monthly sales listings for March, and despite strong performances from big triple-A titles like BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, overall industry revenue has continued to decline as the current generation of consoles winds down.
Unsurprisingly, BioShock Infinite was the big winner for March: despite being released near the end of the month, the game managed to outperform the competition thanks to nearly unanimous critical praise and an extensive marketing campaign. BioShock’s publisher, 2K Games, has a lot to be happy about: thanks to Infinite’s strong performance and continued sales of NBA 2k13 (which came in 8th this month,) the company says that March was one of their most profitable months in history.
Square-Enix’s new Tomb Raider reboot took second place. Sales data suggests that the new Tomb Raider had the best debut month in the entire history of the franchise, but apparently that wasn’t enough, as Square-Enix recently blamed the game’s supposedly disappointing sales for their recent financial problems. Frankly, it’s kind of insane that a game can sell as well as Tomb Raider did and can still be considered a disappointment, and the game’s supposed “failure” is a strong indictment against the bloated budgets of modern triple-A games.
Gears of War: Judgement and God of War: Ascension took third and fourth place respectively, but sales analysts have pointed out that, just like Tomb Raider, those titles are considered to be “under-performing” by their publisher’s standards: both games only managed a fraction of the sales that previous Gears of War and God of War games earned.
In terms of other new releases, Nintendo’s Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon debuted in 6th place, while Activision’s The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct managed to secure the 9th spot on the NPD’s top 10, despite receiving universally bad reviews.
The PC’s two big hits for the month, EA’s SimCity and Blizzard’s Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, are noticeably absent from the list. Neither title is selling poorly — both EA And Blizzard have stated that both games are actually selling quite well — but the NPD doesn’t track digital sales, hence their absence from this month’s top 10.
Anyway, here’s the full top 10 list, in case you’re curious:
- Bioshock Infinite
- Tomb Raider
- Gears of War: Judgment
- God of War: Ascension
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
- MLB 13: The Show
- NBA 2k13
- The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
- Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
While software sales were actually up 2 percent this month, overall revenue gained from those sales was down 10%. Unsurprisingly, sales of consoles are experiencing a sharp decline, down a whopping 32% when compared to this time last year. Of course, with the upcoming release of the PS4 and new Xbox this Fall (and possibly the Steam Box as well,) it’s not surprising to hear that there’s fewer people buying 360’s and PS3’s.
While the Xbox 360 was once again the best selling console of the month, Nintendo’s 3DS was the only system to actually improve in sales: sales of 3DS hardware increased by 9%, and sales of games for the system are up 50% overall. Nintendo attributes the system’s recent success to the popularity of titles such as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, and Capcom’s Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.
While it seems like March was a rough month for video game publishers, it was a great time to be a gamer: I pretty much bought a new game ever week in March (Tomb Raider first, then Starcraft II: HoTS, then Monster Hunter 3, then BioShock,) and I absolutely loved all of them.
Looking ahead, April seems like it’s going to be a quieter month for the industry. Outside of WB Games’ Injustice: Gods Among Us, most of April’s releases seem targeted at niche audiences: Pandora’s Tower, the third and final “Operation Rainfall” Wii game just hit store shelves this week, and the long awaited PS3 Director’s Cut of cult classic Deadly Premonition is still set to launch at the end of the month. Personally, I don’t mind that April has less triple-A releases than March — I still need more time to finish Tomb Raider and get my rank up in Monster Hunter.
Anyway, check back next month for another recap of the NPD’s findings. Hopefully the game industry’s fortunes will improve as we get closer to the release of the next-gen consoles.