As April comes to a close, it marks the end of a pretty quiet month. Prominent new software releases were minimal, and there wasn’t any new hardware to speak of. These factors make for a bit of a challenging month when trying to predict numbers, because you have to read between the lines and rely more on trends than current events to try and forecast where the NPD numbers will fall. We still have the residual effect of the Pokemon launch from March, plus the DSi XL is still new and interest in the hardware will likely affect the bottom line. Supply issues still seem to be affecting the PlayStation 3 platform, and there were no new major software releases in April for it. The Xbox 360 may have gotten a boost from Splinter Cell: Conviction in April, while the Wii is difficult to call based on recent monthly performance.
Having said that, it’s time to unveil the numbers:
- Nintendo DS: 655,000 units
- Nintendo Wii: 440,000 units
- Xbox 360: 325,000 units
- PlayStation 3: 310,000 units
- Sony PSP: 112,000 units
- PlayStation 2: 103,000 units
The Nintendo DS will rule the roost once again for April. Pokemania and interest in the DSi XL will combine to create impressive hardware sales results. Trends will also tell you that the Mario IP is still hot, with older titles like New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart DS both staying consistent in the bottom half of the NPD Top 20 Software Sales charts. Even if consumers find the DSi XL to be too expensive, they can fall back on the DSi or DS Lite to get their portable gaming fix… so Nintendo wins here in any direction. News of the Nintendo 3DS is still slow to penetrate the casual consumer base, so rather than wait and see for that device, consumers can and will continue to buy Nintendo DS units and keep the portable juggernaut at or near the top of the sales charts for the foreseeable future.
The Nintendo Wii has been almost impossible to predict when it comes to sales. The platform disappoints you when you’re bullish, but in months where you don’t expect much and make lower predictions– like March, for example– it sells a ton. Monster Hunter Tri was the big release for April, and it’s likely that strong demand for New Super Mario Bros. Wii will continue as the game continues to show impressive legs. Although some good arguments have been made here about the viability of Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a system seller, I firmly believe that the title will take advantage of the IP momentum and that Nintendo will do an impressive job marketing the game and making consumers want to buy it. That obviously won’t directly apply to April’s sales numbers, but increased visibility and advertising in certain retail locations may be drumming up interest in purchasing and playing the original Super Mario Galaxy game to be ready for the sequel. As mentioned above… Mario is hot right now.
The Xbox 360 should likely continue its impressive streak with another month of over 300,000 units sold. Splinter Cell: Conviction will be a major catalyst here, as well as the continued supply of Elite bundles with Forza Motorsport 3 and Halo 3: ODST. With the Halo: Reach beta hype soaring in the second half of April, having ODST gets players into the beta starting May 3rd, so buying the bundle gets players in. Splinter Cell was also joined by a few multiplatform releases, although these tended to come out late in the month. Super Street Fighter IV, Nier, and Dead to Rights: Retribution all debuted in the last week of April, likely too late to have much influence on console sales.
The PlayStation 3 cannot shake its supply woes. Add the fact that there weren’t any exclusive software releases for the platform in April and that buzz is dying down for their lineup of great games from Q1 and it makes for another month where Microsoft has Sony’s number. On paper, Sony clearly should have been gaining traction over the first three months of 2010… but when there aren’t enough units to satisfy demand, momentum takes a hit. It makes sense to predict that April will result in just a minor downturn in sales, since demand will likely remain fairly high due to the lack of supply… but moving forward in 2010, it will be very interesting to see the direction that PlayStation 3 sales take.
PlayStation 2 and PSP sales have been boosted from their usual predictions. These two platforms have been consistently outperforming more conservative forecasts in Q1, so bumps to both numbers should put them in line with actual figures. There weren’t any significant releases for either platform, so the adjustments are based solely on recent trends.
On the software side of things, look for a strong debut from Splinter Cell: Conviction to go along with a continuation of strong sales for Pokemon SoulSilver (and HeartGold) and New Super Bros. Wii. Look for God of War III to fall from the top spot on the sales chart, although it’s possible that the game will remain in the Top 10 for a second straight month. MLB 10: The Show will likely fall from the Top 10. Keep a close eye on Final Fantasy XIII and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 to see if either multiplatform title shows legs going into their second month of release.
We’ll see how these predictions pan out when the actual numbers arrive soon. Look for a full analysis of NPD’s numbers when they become available.