Although we’re officially into 2011 now, it’s not quite time to turn the page when it comes to sales numbers as figures for December 2010 should be trickling out over the coming week or two. Here’s a snapshot of what I expect those numbers to indicate:
I expect strong hardware sales numbers from both Nintendo and Microsoft. Based on supply issues for the Xbox 360 in the month of December, I am calling for Nintendo to sweep the top two spots for hardware sales in December with the DS and Wii platforms, respectively. The Nintendo DS continues to sell remarkably well, given a tame slate of software and the impending release of the Nintendo 3DS platform by the end of Q1 ’11. Nintendo DS SKUs are less expensive than their console counterparts and the portability of the devices makes them hits with multiple demographics, especially pre-teen consumers. Wii sales were fueled by a one-two software punch; Just Dance 2 continued its strong sales for the holiday season and demand for the limited Super Mario All-Stars package helped to move consoles. I still believe that the Xbox 360 will wind up being the best overall sales performer for Q4 (and possibly the entire year), but the Wii should close the gap as least somewhat thanks to a strong December.
Microsoft can thank the hype machine behind the Kinect camera for causing sellouts of Xbox 360 consoles in many locations. While sellouts certainly indicate strong demand, the associated supply woes likely will relegate the Xbox 360 to third place in December. Although Microsoft certainly talked a good game by logging some huge projections for Kinect penetration, I think that the company might not have been logistically prepared for the number of consoles that have been moving in Q4. It’s interesting to note that supply replenishments did start trickling into retail channels just after December 20th, but I fear that the calvary arrived just a little too late for Microsoft to pull out a late sales victory.
Sony is expected to bring up the rear in hardware sales again with the PlayStation 3 and PSP platforms, capping a forgettable holiday hardware sales season. Gran Turismo 5 was pretty much the only draw for the PS3 for the holidays, and any hype or excitement regarding PlayStation Move was tempered by poor availability and the strong presence of Kinect. There was strong demand for standalone PlayStation Move controllers, and the item was among the hardest to find over the holiday season– and that includes Kinect and Xbox 360 250GB units– but PlayStation 3 console hardware was abundant and generally sat on store shelves. As for the PSP, the quick spike in sales in late November and into early December is expected to have tailed off as the month progressed as new software was scarce for the platform.
Here is the list of expected sales rankings for each platform in December 2010:
- Nintendo DS
- Nintendo Wii
- Xbox 360
- PlayStation 3
- Sony PSP
Expect to see Call of Duty: Black Ops dominate the software sales chart for a second straight month. In addition to strong word-of-mouth support and solid review scores, multiple retailers discounted the game by $10-$20 during the last two weeks of December which helped to move units. I also expect to see strong numbers from Madden NFL 11, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and Super Mario All-Stars. Super Mario All-Stars likely sold through over 90% of its one-time allocation to retailers in less than one month’s time, which is evidence that that consumers are not only still excited for the Mario IP– but that a budget-conscious title (4 games for $30) is a force to be reckoned with. Just Dance 2 for the Wii should continue its hot trend, but The Michael Jackson Experience may yield disappointing results as too many games seem to be crowding the Wii dance game genre. Expect a decline for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit in December, as the title seemed to run out of gas early with consumers and retailers.
2010 Winners and Losers:
Since we’re wrapping up 2010, it’s time to look back and name a few winners and losers for the year that was.
In hardware, your big winner is Microsoft. In a year where it looked like the PlayStation 3 could catch up to the Xbox 360, Microsoft not only outdistanced its HD competition but also pulled ahead of the Wii in successive months in Q4. The new “Slim” hardware revision invigorated sales in the second half of 2010, and the release of the Kinect motion sensor in November added to the platform’s sales momentum. It will be interesting to see how close the overall hardware sales race in 2010 between the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii ends up.
Your hardware loser for 2010 is Sony. Poised to make up ground on Microsoft and coming off of building momentum from a price drop in the second half of 2009, supply woes negated a strong software lineup in Q1 and Sony was never able to recover. The release of PlayStation Move looked to stem the tide, but masterful marketing of Kinect by Microsoft and a tepid slate of Move-enabled games kept Move from really being a threat in Q4. Roles seem to have reversed as we roll into 2011, however, as it’s now Microsoft that’s dealing with some supply issues. We’ll see if this year holds a different fate for Sony.
The big software winners for 2010 are Red Dead Redemption and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Both games showcased impressive sales numbers for their respective launch windows. Red Dead Redemption might have been a slightly more impressive performer, given that May was a significant month for software releases, but both games moved millions of units and generated tons of revenue for their respective publishers.
The big software loser for 2010 is Electronic Arts. Sure, there was success in games like Madden NFL 11 and Mass Effect 2, but the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 and less-than-stellar sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 11 and NBA Jam landed a black eye on EA Sports. Sales consistency needs to be a target for ERTS in 2011, and the company has reduced the number of software titles to be released in FY ’11 to try and compensate for what was a down year overall for the software giant. Bioshock 2 is an honorable mention in this category, as retailers struggled to unload tons of unsold copies of a game that never came close to matching the success of its predecessor in terms of overall quality or consumer reaction.
Look for in-depth analysis of sales data here as it becomes available in the coming days. As always, reaction and comments are welcome.
Since NPD stopped sharing its domestic sales figures with the press (and therefore the general public), it’s very difficult to pinpoint numbers and interpret larger trends. Over at NeoGAF, fellow armchair analysts have taken the time to sift through press releases and have posted what available information that’s been released regarding November’s sales numbers. I’m going to borrow from that data to forge a bit of analysis.
Looking at hardware, the Nintendo DS looks to have finished on top, moving about 1.5 million units in November across all SKUs. This number was undoubtedly fueled at least somewhat by the release of several special edition bundles, most notably Nintendo’s limited red DSi bundle with Mario Kart DS that commemorated the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. The DS platform keeps on selling, and this is good news for Nintendo leading up to the release of the 3DS in March 2011. The Nintendo DS brand still resonates strongly with children and young adults, mainly due to its portability and its flagship IPs including Mario and Pokemon. I am expecting December sales of the platform to trend slightly downward, but still remain strong as many units will be bought as gifts through the remainder of the holiday shopping season.
The Xbox 360 platform ranked second in November sales, with a projected number of 1.37 million units sold across all SKUs. This is pretty much in line with what I expected; Microsoft has been dominant in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the Xbox 360 has performed well above sales expectations all year. It’s no secret that Kinect has been a major influence on sales in November; it was the best-selling accessory last month and demand is increasing as supplies have become limited. Supplies of the 250GB Xbox 360 “S” hardware have become seriously constrained; in fact, Microsoft has warned several retailers not to expect replenishment of this item for the rest of 2010. That leaves a window of about three weeks of tight supply, and that could bode negatively for sales of the platform in December. 4GB models are still available in most locations, but having to pay what amounts to a $30 penalty to have to buy the hardware and the 250GB hard drive a la carte is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of consumers. The one saving grace for Microsoft in this case is that hype and demand for Kinect will likely continue to drive demand for the Xbox 360 platform well into the first quarter of next year, leaving time for the re-routing of hardware to markets that need it to satisfy demand in early 2011.
Nintendo’s Wii platform came in third overall, moving about 1.27 million units. November marks the sixth straight month that the Wii has been outsold by the Xbox 360 in the United States, which is the longest such “losing” streak for Nintendo since the Wii debuted four years ago. The good news for Nintendo is that Wii sales for November were about 1% higher than last year, which is an improvement compared to the past few months when sales had been down versus the same time period a year ago. It can be argued that the numbers for November show that Nintendo is weathering the Kinect storm and managing to hold its own with a platform that’s come under serious fire from analysts of late. While the “Wii bubble” is deflating, the platform is still a sales force to be reckoned with. What’s more, the Wii had two of the ten best-selling games in November in Just Dance 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns. There’s also a chance that the Wii could move back ahead of the Xbox 360 this month, thanks to the 360′s tight supply and Nintendo’s release of Super Mario All-Stars at a budget price. Outside of this month, however, I expect Wii sales to resume its pattern of gradual decline and I also believe that E3 in 2011 could very well unveil Nintendo’s next console. (Yes, I’m calling my shot now.)
Bringing up the rear for November sales is the PlayStation 3, which has had a fairly disappointing sales year. Only 530,000 units were reportedly sold last month, meaning that the platform was beaten soundly by its competition. That’s despite an attractive holiday bundle with two free games and another bundle with the PlayStation Move Sports Champions set. The buzz for the PlayStation 3 has been all but absent for a lot of 2010… and when it has been there (for PlayStation Move, for example), it’s been short-lived and succeeded by something else. December should be at least a little better for the PS3, given that Gran Turismo 5 will have the entire month with which it can sell units. From there, the first quarter of 2011 has the potential to be strong for Sony with Little Big Planet 2 (January) and Killzone 3 (February). We’ll see if 2011 may finally be the long-awaited “Year of the PS3″.
Turning to software, seeing Call of Duty: Black Ops at the top of the list for sales should surprise nobody. The fact that Black Ops already ranks #7 on the all-time best-selling games list after less than one month is astounding. Across all platforms, Black Ops moved 8.4 million units in November. That’s a staggering number. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood also broke the million mark in November, selling 1.14 million units to rank second. Just Dance 2 for the Wii was third, followed by Madden NFL 11 and Fable III. Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii finished just outside of the Top 5, but its sales of over 430,000 units is pretty impressive given how late in the month that the game arrived at retail. According to various reports, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit barely outsold Gran Turismo 5 as both games finished in the 7th and 8th spots, respectively. NBA 2K11 was 9th, and Wii Fit Plus rounded out the Top 10.
November was a successful month for console video game sales. Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision, and UbiSoft were the big winners, and the Xbox 360 continued its run of dominance that’s spanned a good portion of this year. Before this month’s analysis comes to a close, let’s make some hardware predictions for December:
- Nintendo DS: Although I see a slight decline from November’s numbers, I think that the DS will continue to sell based on its lower price point, wide variety of affordable software, and its continued brand strength with kids. 3DS looms in the Ides of March, but are consumers really paying attention yet? I don’t think so.
- Nintendo Wii: I’m going out on a bit of a limb here by saying that the Wii will finally leapfrog the Xbox 360 after a 6-month losing streak. My confidence is driven by two factors. First, supplies of Xbox 360 hardware– specifically the 250GB models– are extremely tight… so consumers who want to buy one can’t find them. The release of Super Mario All-Stars for $30 gives consumers a solid value and Wii availability is high. Add the continued availability of the limited edition red Wii (with New Super Mario Bros. included), and that might add up to a Wii victory.
- Xbox 360: Sales will still be strong, given that Kinect is one of the hottest items this month, but limited supply of hardware is going to hurt Microsoft here. If supply constraints somehow loosen before Christmas, Microsoft could still beat out Nintendo here– but I’m not betting on this to happen. January of 2011 could be even more interesting.
- PlayStation 3: The PS3 will finish 2010 on the same notes of disappointment and under-achievement that it began the year on. Gran Turismo 5 may help, but mediocre sales in December could translate to plentiful supplies of hardware early next year when some important and potentially big software hits retail.
That’s all for this month. I’m going to try to put together a list of predictions for 2011 soon to close out what’s been a remarkable year for the console gaming industry in many ways. In the meantime, your feedback and comments are always welcome. Feel free to chat me up on Twitter, as well.
Have a happy and safe holiday season, and thanks for reading Consoleation. Look for more consistent updates and content once the holiday shopping season ebbs and my schedule returns to normal.
It has been awhile since I’ve talked about NPD numbers, hasn’t it? Well, the results for August are in, and while they seem to have shaken Michael Pachter, I’m here to tell you that there should be no surprise. Microsoft’s continued success stems from its revisions of the Xbox 360 hardware– first with the $300 250GB model and now with the 4GB $200 model. These are “new”, and combined with recent strong sellers like NCAA Football 11 and Madden NFL 11, the Xbox 360 platform has separated itself from the pack over the course of 2010 so far. What’s striking to me are two things:
- Wii sales numbers in August represent the lowest amount of systems sold since the platform’s launch in 2006. Has the bubble burst?
- PlayStation 3 numbers are lifeless and unimpressive. Still. Will this change during Q4?
We’ll get to these points, but let’s first look at the data:
- Microsoft Xbox 360: 356,700 units
- Nintendo DS: 342,700 units
- Nintendo Wii: 244,300 units
- Sony PlayStation 3: 226,000 units
- PlayStation Portable: 79,400 units
As I mentioned above, Microsoft’s success with the Xbox 360 in August is not surprising. The introduction of the $200 4GB SKU was received well, and there’s still at least moderate interest in the $300 250GB SKU. Combine that with the annual release of Madden NFL, which moved over 920,000 units, and it adds up to a monthly win. It’s also important to note that August was a pretty slow month when it came to software; aside from Madden, Mafia II was probably the only other “big” title– and it barely broke 120,000 units. September is guaranteed (and I rarely use that word here) to be another win for Microsoft with what should be an impressive debut for Halo: Reach. Reach reservation numbers are staggering… not only for the base game, but for special editions and even the Reach console. Late-month multiplatform releases like Dead Rising 2, FIFA 11, and even Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will likely sell better on the 360, which could further tip the balance of power for September in Microsoft’s favor.
Let’s get back to the first of the two questions that I asked to start the column. Has the Wii bubble finally burst? I think that it’s certainly open to debate. Wii sales have been trending downward for a few months now and that trend will likely continue this month. Nintendo has no answer for Halo: Reach this month, nor do they have anything substantially new that can compete for consumer attention like PlayStation Move could. Instead, Nintendo is left with hoping that a price reduction for its DSi line of portable systems will bring home the bacon. With some very mixed reaction from reviewers and weak initial response from consumers, Metroid: Other M is shaping up to be a surprising letdown for Nintendo in terms of their normally successful first-party releases, and although we may see it debut on September’s NPD Top 10 software chart for September, it won’t be enough to shake the Wii doldrums. It will be interesting to watch and see if New Carnival Games will sell as well as the first game… plus we’ll have to see just how much effect that the DSi price drops will have. I can see at least a modest increase in DS hardware sales for September.
The other question that I led off with regarding the PlayStation 3 won’t be answered in September. One good sign for Sony from August is that, although hardware sales were sluggish once again, sales of Madden NFL 11 were not that far off from those of its Xbox 360 counterpart. NPD data made it unclear how close sales were between the two versions of Mafia II, although the fact that the Xbox 360 version outsold the PS3 version in spite of PS3-exclusive content at launch is a little disappointing. If the Wii is in the doldrums, then the PlayStation 3 is in a funk. The upgrade of the $300 SKU from 120GB to 160GB may generate some sales for September, but the bigger thing to watch will be the number of early adopters for PlayStation Move and how well it debuts. I’m still thinking that the Move console bundle SKU for $400 may be cost-prohibitive, especially for a new technology, but Sony has already gone on the record as saying that big things are not expected from Move sales early on. I’ve been predicting– and have been wrong so far– that Sony is going to see a positive change in momentum for the PS3 this year. I’m now ready to concede that it’s likely that any real momentum shift won’t take place until 2011. I just can’t see Gran Turismo 5, Little Big Planet 2, and PlayStation Move being able to derail the Microsoft train in Q4, despite what I’m guessing will be a tepid response to Kinect.
Here’s what I see the hardware pecking order to be for September. Keep in mind that I’m eliminating unit sales predictions and instead am just listing my early projections.
- Xbox 360: Two words. Halo. Reach. Microsoft will win September handily.
- Nintendo DS: The DSi price drops will have a positive effect, especially as school has just restarted and another Pokemon title is coming soon.
- Nintendo Wii: Aside from New Carnival Games and hopefully some late Other M purchases, September is quiet for the Big N.
- PlayStation 3: I think that PlayStation Move will start slowly, and most of the month’s multiplatform releases will be skewed towards the Xbox 360.
- Sony PSP: Could come close to 100K again thanks to the release of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep– which PSPgo units cannot play, by the way.
We’ll see how September plays out in a few weeks. In the meantime, keep checking back for more retail anecdotes and analysis here.
Also, I would like to formally announce that I’ve signed on as a staff reviewer for J2Games. The site is being relaunched in October and will be focusing on games with a classic link or retro feel. We’ll be covering current games, to be sure, but working there gives me a chance to use my years of gaming experience and cover games of all times– past and present. I have my first couple of assignments, and will certainly share the reviews with you when they are posted. I’m going to be working with some passionate people, including someone that I’ve admired for years, so I’m very excited.
Yes, I know they’re late– but NPD released the results of what was a busy May in terms of sales. It was a month that once again gave rise to the Old West, saw indifference with racing, and disappointed when it came to hardware sales. Let’s look at the raw data (with my original predictions in parenthesis)…
- Nintendo DS: 383,700 units (Prediction: 527,000 units; Difference: -143,300)
- Nintendo Wii: 334,800 units (Prediction: 575,000 units; Difference: -240,200)
- Xbox 360: 194,600 units (Prediction: 280,000 units; Difference: -85,400)
- PlayStation 3: 154,500 units (Prediction: 228,000 units; Difference: -73,500)
- Sony PSP: 59,400 units (Prediction: 80,000 units; Difference: -20,600)
Before I break down each of the competitors here, I wanted to comment a bit on the raw data at first glance.
Here’s a tip for all of you other armchair analysts out there: Software doesn’t necessarily move hardware, especially as time goes on in a console generation. I was bullish on the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 because of the strong software that came out in May… but the actual numbers go to show you that, despite a strong slate of games, the hardware is still tougher to move. There are reasons for all of these systems to come in under my projections; the Wii and DS platforms already enjoy strong installed userbase numbers– and the Xbox 360 is also in the same situation, though to a lesser degree. As for the PlayStation 3, hardware was just starting to trickle back into retail channels during the later stages of May and I still believe that sales are due for a bump in June and beyond now that supply is beginning to be replenished with decent numbers.
Let’s start with Nintendo, as is almost always the case for these analysis pieces. The Nintendo DS platform ruled the roost again, though its margin of victory over the Wii was fairly narrow. Both in my retail experience and as the charts prove, the demand for Nintendo DS units is still out there. Pokemon is still the strongest IP that the DS has going for it, while titles like New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart DS, and others have little trouble moving units on the sales floor. Demand for Pokemon is beginning to wane; HeartGold didn’t make the Top 10 in May, while SoulSilver slid down to the #9 spot on the software chart. I don’t expect the demand to completely dry up for Pokemon over the next 3-4 months, but I think that it will continue a slow but gradual slide down the charts. As for the Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2 moved a respectable 563,900 units in May– not too bad considering that the game had only about 8 days of sales to report. As I expected, New Super Mario Bros. Wii also saw a bump in sales. I think that the problem with the Wii is that numbers appear to be hitting a bit of a ceiling. Despite strong software, many consumers already own a Wii as it approaches its fourth year of release. Even with the new color and free games thrown in, along with a major new release like Super Mario Galaxy 2, there wasn’t a blockbuster consumer response. This could bear watching heading into Q4 if the trend continues for another month or two… and I have a hunch that it will.
To me, it speaks volumes when a game that sells as much as Red Dead Redemption did (945,900 units) had almost no effect on sales of the game’s platform. You can also factor in releases like UFC 2010: Undisputed (221,100 units) and even Alan Wake (which surprisingly charted at #8 in software sales)… and hardware results are still disappointing at best. I’d be worried about sales of the Xbox 360 hardware moving forward, but Microsoft has revitalized interest– at least for now– with the launch of its slimmer and more functional hardware revision. Demand for the “new” Xbox 360 has been hot, and as Microsoft fills retail channels with units, expect to see at least a temporary spike in hardware sales… especially in Q4 to go along with Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops. For May, though, the Xbox 360 hardware number is weak and serves as further proof that software doesn’t always fuel hardware sales.
Sony can see the light at the end of the tunnel, despite a miserable May. Both Red Dead Redemption (567,100 units) and UFC Undisputed 2010 (192,300 units) were solid software sellers, but with supply of new PlayStation 3 units still at a trickle for most of the month, there was little hope for a decent push of new hardware. At the local retail level, I have seen interest in PlayStation 3 units rising of late, although supply now seems to be outpacing demand by a bit. I expect sales of the PlayStation 3 to rise somewhat in June and I am still predicting a robust Q4 with a PlayStation Move / Gran Turismo 5 combination that should move units for the last three months of 2010. As for the PSP, sales were barely worth mentioning– again. This could change somewhat and even approach the 100K level in June thanks to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, but if May has taught us anything, it’s the recurring theme of software not necessarily moving hardware.
As for the Top 10 software titles in May:
- Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360): 945,900 units
- Red Dead Redemption (PlayStation 3): 567,100 units
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo Wii): 563,900 units
- UFC 2010: Undisputed (Xbox 360): 221,100 units
- UFC 2010: Undisputed (PlayStation 3): 192,300 units
- Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo Wii)
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo Wii)
- Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
- Pokemon SoulSilver (Nintendo DS)
- Skate 3 (Xbox 360)
Note the absence of both racing titles released in May, which were Split/Second and Blur. I hate to say that I told you so, but… I told you so. There just wasn’t enough money left over for consumers to take chances on one or two new racing IPs, especially with only a week between the release of each. Had either Activision or Disney delayed its racer by one month, I believe that the results would have been better. Activision did send out $20 off coupons to select users for Blur in June, so you could see a bump in sales of that game… but I think that Split/Second will be forgotten and left in Blur‘s dust when all is said and done.
June will likely see the hardware malaise continuing, with minor improvement possible for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. Aside from LEGO Harry Potter, there weren’t any real blockbuster software releases in June, either… so we could be in for seeing more of the same titles that we saw this month, highlighted by Red Dead Redemption and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Look for my June predictions by the end of the long holiday weekend.
The biggest part of E3 for those of us who are not in Los Angeles at the show is over. We’ve seen the press events and heard the announcements and surprises. It’s now time to talk about the winners and losers, the surprises and the no-shows, and talk about how the balance of power may shift for the next 12 months– if at all.
If you’ve read my summaries of all three press events, you know that I gave Nintendo’s press event the highest grade. While some may argue that nothing really new came from the event, since the games are largely from existing IPs, it doesn’t really matter. The games tickled the nostalgia bones of those in attendance and at home, and it’s no secret that Nintendo did their homework and understood that E3 is not the forum to appeal to the casual set. While the event covered a few casual games, it was largely aimed at the group in attendance and the effect was unmistakable. Nobody expected a new Kid Icarus game for the 3DS. Donkey Kong Country Returns was a shocker. Nobody knew about a new Kirby title. Then you throw in the games expected for the 3DS, including IPs like Star Fox, Animal Crossing, Metal Gear, Assassin’s Creed, Street Fighter, and more? There wasn’t a better press event than Nintendo’s, and it was driven by Reggie Fils-Aime, who continues to exude confidence and charisma.
Sony’s press event had its fair share of problems, if you judge it based on the flow of the event and the prominent speaker. Jack Tretton continues to struggle with his speeches and stage presence, and this year was exceptionally bad. When Tretton is on stage, he is the face of Sony… so when he stutters, stammers, or even uses wrong game titles, it affects the credibility of the brand that he represents. The game content was occasionally all over the place, with lots of montages and constant closing branding for each video piece that Tretton repeatedly tried to talk over. Despite that, the event contained significant information. Unlike other newly announced technology, like Nintendo’s 3DS or Microsoft’s Kinect, Sony proudly gave a release date and price points to PlayStation Move. We finally saw a firm release date for Gran Turismo 5. PlayStation Plus was also priced, even if some of the other details were less than clear during the event. What was clear to me was that Sony has the games and the technology, along with strategic partnerships with third-party publishers for exclusive content… which puts them solidly ahead of Microsoft at this point in time.
Speaking of Microsoft… what the hell happened on Monday? I sure hope that there were some angry Microsoft people after the event, because it was an embarrassment. If it wasn’t for Gears of War 3 and a brief look at Metal Gear Solid: Rising– which is multiplatform and doesn’t really help or hurt MS here– the event would have been unspeakably awful. The differences between Sony’s presentation of PS Move and Microsoft’s presentation of Kinect are stark: Sony’s demos were relatively short and came across as natural while the Kinect demos felt forced and were plagued by a few problems. Aside from the arguably ineffective announcement that Call of Duty DLC was time-exclusive to the 360 starting with Black Ops, what was was there? ESPN? Fine, but that’s nothing that a PC can’t also do. Halo: Reach? Sure, it looked impressive and space combat adds a new wrinkle, but fans had already made up their minds to buy before E3. The only other impressive– though anticipated– announcement was about the new Xbox 360 hardware. It was a surprise that it was ready and shipping to stores, but the price cuts for legacy hardware weren’t announced until after the event and attendees got free hardware, which almost felt like a reward for having to sit through so much fluff.
So… how does this week change the console gaming landscape?
Nintendo should have no problem keeping their position of dominance. Despite the ever-present threat of hardware saturation, the games that were shown at the press event and will be on display this week will help to fuel both hardware and software sales for the Wii for the rest of 2010 and into next year. GoldenEye 007 has a chance to be a bigger hit than many expect, Just Dance 2 will look to capitalize on the popularity of the original, and titles like Metroid: Other M, Kirby: Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, and Donkey Kong Country Returns all point to continued success for the Wii. The DS platform is a little less certain right now. Nintendo didn’t announce a launch date for the 3DS, so the current platforms are in a bit of limbo now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Dragon Quest IX and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn should help to drive sales for awhile, but all bet are off until Nintendo outs its 3DS plans.
I was pleasantly surprised by Sony. The content exclusivity announcements, acceptable PlayStation Move pricing, and news that Gran Turismo 5 will hit this year means that Sony once again has some momentum to work with. With Sony getting its supply issues under control, the missing piece of the success puzzle may be ready to be placed. Publishers seem to be exhibiting a more positive response to the PlayStation 3 platform, which makes sense given its run of momentum recently, and this can only mean good things for at least the near-term. It’s also important to note that, at least from observations, PS Move seems like the real deal. The price seems right, the technology seems fairly accurate, and many games may have it as an option– and not a necessity. That helps to alleviate any possible split in the userbase. If Sony can keep supplying systems to sell, this could be a happy holiday indeed for the company.
Microsoft won’t openly come away from E3 showing disappointment, but it should. Having already bungled an exclusive game release last month with Alan Wake, the company’s early E3 showing indicates weakness moving forward to me. Microsoft has clearly hedged its bets on Kinect. There are really two scenarios here:
- Kinect sells well and the Xbox 360 has a new lease on life.
- Kinect bombs this holiday season and Sony storms ahead of Microsoft.
The games aren’t really the issue here. We know that Halo: Reach will sell truckloads, but then what? Wait for Gears 3? The new Xbox 360 hardware may help drive sales for at least the short term as users trade in or sell older models or they replace broken equipment. The Xbox 360 platform still does have a strong library of games to choose from, and publishers aren’t exactly getting off of the Microsoft bus any time soon. The issue here is that, if E3 is any indication, there’s a significant shift going on with Sony and Microsoft alternating spots behind Nintendo… and Microsoft is as responsible for this shift as Sony is.
Like many of you, I’ll be reading impressions and viewing pictures from the show. For now, my work is done. Unless, of course, you have your own thoughts or comments on the press events. Feel free to share them!
Armchair analysts, heed my words: Do not forget to take into account historic sales based on the month you’re predicting.
I failed to do this when I posted my predictions a couple of weeks ago, and the numbers are… well… UGLY. Let’s get to them, then discuss each platform:
- Nintendo DS: (Actual: 440,800 Predicted: 655,000)
- Nintendo Wii: (Actual: 277,200 Predicted: 440,000)
- Xbox 360: (Actual: 185,400 Predicted: 325,000)
- PlayStation 3: (Actual: 180,800 Predicted: 310,000)
- Sony PSP: (Actual: 65,500 Predicted: 112,000)
There weren’t any NPD figures supplied for the PlayStation 2.
OK, how do we make sense of these numbers? The first thing to remember– which I never thought of– is that April tends to be a slow sales month for console gaming. It makes sense; most tax returns are already spent and the weather usually improves. Although Splinter Cell: Conviction led the software sales chart for April, it was the class of a generally weak software month all around. In fact, the only debuts on April’s chart were Conviction and the PlayStation 3 version of Super Street Fighter IV. That was it. Many new sites are highlighting the decline on sales and are painting a worse picture of the numbers than there needs to be.
Seeing the Nintendo DS in the top spot is no surprise. The platform continues to be bolstered by strong sales of Pokemon SoulSilver (#2 on the software chart) and Pokemon HeartGold (#4), plus the allure of the new DSi XL platform is still out there. The portability of the platform is a big plus, as well; being able to play pretty much wherever you want is a significant advantage to having to wait until you’re at home. Many DS games make it easy to have quick gaming sessions, such as during work/school breaks or being a passenger during travel, and the DS also has a formidable library of various titles in many genres. The DS will hold the top spot for at least another month before Nintendo officially showcases the 3DS at E3 in June and possibly takes some of the wind out of the platform’s sails.
The Wii continues to be a source of personal frustration when it comes to making predictions. When I’m bullish, sales seem to plummet… and then when I think that the platform is due for a decline, sales inexplicably bounce upwards. The degree of the decline from last month is impressive, as over 557,000 Wiis were sold in March despite having little new software in that month. April was supposed to be a little different wth the release of Monster Hunter Tri and joint advertising by Capcom and Nintendo. I expected a drop off from the lofty number posted in March, but Monster Hunter Tri never dented the Top 10 software list and was even outsold by Ubisoft’s Just Dance, which continues to baffle and impress analysts at the same time. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is still selling briskly, charting third in between both of the DS Pokemon titles, and that’s an interesting and potentially fruitful setup leading into May and the impending release of Super Mario Galaxy 2 late this month. The Wii will challenge the DS for the top spot in May, but I think that the DS will still come out just ahead.
Microsoft has little to be proud of for April when it comes to the Xbox 360. They hit their first real sales wall of 2010, and even an exclusive like Splinter Cell: Conviction was unable to ignite hardware sales. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was the only other 360 title to make the software sales chart in April, which should be disappointing for Microsoft brass. I’m a little surprised that the current Elite bundle didn’t stay hot, especially with the Halo: Reach Beta being imminent at the time and with all bundles basically guaranteeing access. Also surprising is the fact that the 360 version of Super Street Fighter IV was outsold by the PlayStation 3 version– which is not a common occurrence. May should turn more positive for Microsoft with a strong multiplatform release schedule and the launch of Alan Wake, which has been hotly anticipated and has received generally positive review scores.
The aforementioned news that the PlayStation 3 version of Super Street Fighter IV outsold the Xbox 360 version is a piece of rare good news from the Sony camp last month. God of War III stayed on the software chart for a second straight month, moving over 180,000 copies. That’s a significant drop-off from March, but staying in the middle of the chart during an off month is a good sign for the action title. Unfortunately, supply issues continue to haunt Sony when it comes to the PlayStation 3. This isn’t a situation that can be rectified quickly, but the major question is whether Sony can reignite some momentum for the platform during E3 and beyond. Buzz is high regarding PlayStation Move, and if price point projections are right, it could be a mass-market item in time for Q4… and if Sony can get through the supply shortage, the PlayStation 3 could very well be a significant player for the stretch run in 2010. As for May, though, I expect sales to rebound slightly… but to still be behind the NDS, Wii, and Xbox 360.
There’s not much that can be said about the PSP. 65,500 units is just awful for a given month. It’s a platform that, here in the United States, needs serious help. Konami and Namco are trying to help it along with new PSP games for the Metal Gear Solid and Ace Combat IPs, respectively, but the PSP seems directionless and nobody knows what Sony’s strategy is with it. With rumors intensifying of a new PSP successor to be unveiled at E3, expect PSP sales to be either flat or slightly improved for May as we wait and see what Sony has planned for the platform in June. Interestingly enough, NPD did not supply any sales numbers for the PlayStation 2, although there are rumblings out there that it actually outsold the PSP in April.
April is best known for two things: paying taxes and April Fools’ Day. Perhaps having to pay taxes instead of getting refunds may have contrubuted to the decline in sales across the board… but for analysts, the joke was on us. The industry as a whole underperformed in April and eyes are already turning to what to expect in May in order to get a sense of whether this decline is a bump in the road or a sign of trends to come as the year goes on. We’ll see how it plays out; expect my predictions for May to be up on May 31st.
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.
Gamasutra expanded the NPD software sales chart for March on Friday with a Top 20 list. Since I really didn’t cover software sales too much in my main NPD analysis post, it makes sense to do so now, given the extra information. Here’s the list for you, noting that 11-20 do not have units sold numbers:
- God of War III (PS3 – 1,100,000 units)
- Pokemon SoulSilver (NDS – 1,020,000 units)
- Final Fantasy XIII (PS3 – 828,200 units)
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (X360 – 825,500 units)
- Pokemon HeartGold (NDS – 761,200 units)
- Final Fantasy XIII (X360 – 493.900 units)
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii – 457,400 units)
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3 – 451,200 units)
- Wii Fit Plus (Wii – 429,600 units)
- MLB 10: The Show (PS3 – 349,200 units)
- Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
- Just Dance (Wii)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (X360)
- MLB 2K10 (X360)
- New Super Mario Bros. DS (NDS)
- Mario Kart (Wii)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3)
- God of War Collection (PS3)
- Heavy Rain (PS3)
- Mario Kart DS (NDS)
Taking this list at face value, it was a very impressive month for the PlayStation 3. God of War III performed extremely well, as most people predicted. Combine that with strong sales debuts for Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and MLB 10: The Show and continued solid showings for Modern Warfare 2 and Heavy Rain… and Sony has a lot to be proud of. Unfortunately, as I mentioned last time, the PS3 supply shortage could not have happened at a worse time. The PS3 has enjoyed what’s perhaps its strongest period of software releases ever in the first quarter of 2010. Exclusives like MAG, Heavy Rain, God of War III, and MLB 10: The Show have been complemented by notable multiplatform releases such as Bioshock 2, Dante’s Inferno, and Darksiders. Consumers have had great reasons to get excited for the PS3, but there have been precious few available… and now the window of opportunity is arguably closing, and fast. Top-selling games don’t always have legs (see the omission of Bioshock 2 from this month’s NPD after debuting at #1 in February), and once they’ve been around for awhile, enthusiasm for them turns elsewhere. The spotlight shifts to Microsoft and Nintendo now; Alan Wake is due for the Xbox 360 in May, and Nintendo has two potential system-sellers in Super Mario Galaxy 2 (May) and Metroid: Other M (June). Combine that with completely missing out on taking advantage of tax return season, and it’s a momentum killer.
The success of Pokemon SoulSilver and HeartGold should not be a big surprise. The Pokemon IP has been a consistently strong performer, especially on portable platforms (GB / GBC / GBA / DS), and Nintendo’s addition of the Pokewalker device to these latest games adds an interesting new feature to the already established gameplay. It can be argued that Pokemon was really the big winner in March, but being spread over two different games (as the main Pokemon games in the series have been since its domestic introduction in 1998) tends to dilute the results at least a bit. New Super Mario Bros. Wii continues to show strong sales performance, moving over 450,000 units again in March. The level of consumer interest in the Mario IP remains very high as its games make up 20% of last month’s sales chart alone. It’s very possible that New Super Mario Bros. Wii could see semi-permanent residence near the top of the NPD software charts for the rest of 2010. What’s important for Nintendo is that they have weathered a new software drought and now are in position to soar with Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M, leading up to E3– and then anything is possible, especially if a new Zelda game is announced and dated at the event as is expected. One final Nintendo-related software note is the continued strong performance of Just Dance, which is the best-selling third-party Wii game to date. While it did fall out of the Top 10 in March, it outpaced titles like Heavy Rain, Modern Warfare 2, Bioshock 2, and other notable top-sellers.
The Xbox 360 had two major software highlights in March– Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII for the 360 moved nearly 500,000 units, which isn’t bad for the series debut and despite some criticism about the quality of the game versus its PlayStation 3 counterpart. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 performed better, charting fourth and less than 3,000 units shy of the PS3 version of Final Fantasy XIII. Modern Warfare 2 continues to chart in the Top 20 after five months of release, and MLB 2K10 debuted in the Top 15– though it remains to be seen if it will sustain any sales momentum going forward despite being a solid improvement over recent years.The comparative weakness in Xbox 360 software sales didn’t slow down hardware sales, though, as the new Elite bundle was the likely catalyst for the platform’s surprising results.
Bioshock 2 and Dante’s Inferno– both strong sellers in February– fell completely off of the sales chart in March. The case behind Bioshock 2 is especially surprising, given the game’s new multiplayer element and its strong review score average (88 on Metacritic for X360 and PS3). It seemed logical to believe that multiplayer would have given legs to the game, but interest seems to have waned significantly after fans bought the initial burst in February. The disappearance of Dante’s Inferno is not a surprise, however, given the release and strong sales of God of War III. Mass Effect 2 also dropped out of the Top 20 listings in March after a strong 6 weeks of sales. Notable titles that were released in March but did not see a spot in the Top 20 included Dragon Age Origins: Awakening, Just Cause 2, and Red Steel 2. Ubisoft was quick to defend Red Steel 2‘s less-than-stellar showing, but other titles that have debuted in the latter stages of a sales period have still managed to score high numbers so it’s not unrealistic to say that the game could be a sales disappointment.
April software lineup looks rather weak, save for Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction. Expect a lot of repeats on the April NPD chart, including both Pokemon games for the NDS, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, God of War III, and Final Fantasy XIII. We’ll see how it shakes down in just a few weeks.
Before I get to the NPD numbers for March, there are three things that I learned:
- Being bullish on Sony is a bad idea, especially when PlayStation 3 hardware shortages are acknowledged.
- Just when you think that Wii is down for the count, it always seems to come back.
- Never discount the power of bundles, such as Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Elite bundle.
Now then… here are the numbers for March (Platform, Actual Sales, Predicted Sales, Difference):
- Nintendo DS (Actual: 708,000 Predicted: 750,000 Difference: -42,000)
- Nintendo Wii (Actual: 557,500 Predicted: 340,000 Difference: -217,000)
- Xbox 360 (Actual: 338,400 Predicted: 375,000 Difference: -36,600)
- PlayStation 3 (Actual: 313,900 Predicted: 415,000 Difference -101,100)
- PlayStation Portable [PSP] (Actual: 119,900 Predicted: 105,000 Difference: +14,900)
- PlayStation 2 (Actual: 118,300 Predicted: 95,000 Difference: +23,300)
And here are the Top 10 selling software titles for March:
- God of War III (PS3: 1,100,000 units)
- Pokemon SoulSilver (NDS: 1,020,000 units)
- Final Fantasy XIII (PS3: 828,200 units)
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (X360: 825,500 units)
- Pokemon HeartGold (NDS: 761,200 units)
- Final Fantasy XIII (X360: 493,900 units)
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii (WII: 457,400 units)
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3: 451,200 units)
- Wii Fit Plus [with Balance Board] (WII: 429,600 units)
- MLB 10: The Show (PS3: 349,200 units)
Lastly, here are my observations and some of my reaction to the results.
- The Nintendo DS platform performed in line with predictions. Despite being slightly bullish in my predictions, both new Pokemon games likely helped drive sales, along with the introduction of the DSi XL later in the month. This platform will continue to move significant units for at least the next few months as news of the 3DS isn’t likely to affect current sales right away.
- The Nintendo Wii continues to surprise me. Likely propelled by continued strong sales of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and a possible soothing of recent supply shortages, the Wii has a bright 2Q ahead with Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M helping to fuel strong sales. I’m looking to be more bullish in the next 2-3 months and it will continue to challenge for the top spot in hardware sales, if not seize that position outright by May.
- The Xbox 360 success likely comes from two major sources. The introduction of the new Elite bundle (with Forza Motorsport 3 and Halo 3: ODST) is a major factor, plus strong sales of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Final Fantasy XIII likely helped. It’s possible that short supply of the PlayStation 3 drew Final Fantasy fans and interested consumers to consider the Xbox 360 since it was more readily available. This is a big victory for Microsoft, considering Sony’s big guns that arrived in March. It will be interesting to see how long this string of success for the Xbox 360 continues as they seem to have weathered the Sony storm for now.
- Although strong software sales are a good sign for Sony in March, some concern should be in the offing due to the continued weak supply of PlayStation 3 units in the retail pipeline. Sony has not been able to muster enough supply to meet the strong demand that’s been generated by its strong Q1 first-party software slate. It’s entirely possible that Sony has missed its window of opportunity to make up significant ground in the hardware sales race for the foreseeable future. Sony’s software announcements at E3 will be key in determining the potential direction of PS3 sales in the second half of 2010.
- The PlayStation 2 is still showing signs of life and the PSP is still mired in mediocrity. Although I did under-predict sales of both platforms in March, the fact that the PS2 nearly outsold the PSP adds to growing warning signs that the PSP may be in trouble without a serious reboot or price cut come E3. Stay tuned.
April may be a tough month to call. Shortages are still expected to affect PS3 supplies, and there are a mere few major software releases– most notably Splinter Cell: Conviction. All eyes will slowly begin to look forward to E3 and the possible announcements that it will bring. I’ll talk a bit about what I expect from E3 in a few weeks.
That’s it for this month. Please feel free to leave comments with your own reaction to the numbers and maybe even some predictions for what we may see moving forward. Look for my April NPD predictions in about two weeks.
The results are in for April’s console sales, and they are not at all spectacular:
- Nintendo DS: 1.4 million
- Nintendo Wii: 340,000
- Xbox 360: 175,000
- PlayStation 2: 172,000
- PlayStation 3: 127,000
- Playstation Portable: 116,000
Of these numbers, the DS one is far and away the most impressive. While the DS number does not indicate DS Lite versus DSi sales, it’s likely that the DSi launch really helped out here. The DS is a dominant platform, despite obvious hardware shortcomings versus the competition. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Look at the Wii versus its HD console competition… or the Game Boy versus the Game Gear, Lynx, Turbo Express, and so on. What strikes me is that Nintendo has yet to even scratch the surface of the DSi’s capabilities. As the DSi Shop continues to populate with apps and as Nintendo continues to strongly market the DSi, there’s no end in sight to how many units will be sold. It’s affordable (in comparison to current-gen consoles), it’s portable, and it’s multifunctional. It will be interesting to monitor the trend in DS sales as the launch window of the DSi begins to wane, but I believe that sales will continue at a brisk pace.
The other major observation here is that the venerable PlayStation 2 platform kept pace with the Xbox 360 and outsold its successor by nearly 50,000 units. The argument that the industry wants to believe is that the recent PlayStation 2 price drop helped to stimulate sales of the hardware… and it’s hard to argue against that. The other explanation– and one that sends shivers down the spines of execs within the video game industry– is that the effects of the severely damaged economy are finally being felt. The PlayStation 3 hardware is still overpriced, even if Sony can justify the exorbitant expense. The Xbox 360 hasn’t seen a significant first-party or exclusive release that can drive hardware sales. Both platforms also take advantage of high-definition televisions, and that’s an entertainment expense that fewer people than most can afford to shell out. I believe that the truth behind the numbers in April lies somewhere in between both explanations; price drops are usually bound to help drive sales, and it’s foolish to think that the recessed state of the economy isn’t eventually going to affect this business. We’re seeing developers going bankrupt, publishers losing millions of dollars, and a populaton that’s hoarding money more than spending it.
We also didn’t see many high profile releases in April. There were a few noteworthy movie tie-in releases (Wolverine, Hannah Montana), a Nintendo first-party release for the Wii (Excitebots), and a couple of third-party multiplatform releases worth mentioning (Assault on Dark Athena, Godfather II)… but there weren’t any real home runs like Resident Evil 5 was thought to be in March. Here are the Top 10 software sellers for April:
- Wii Fit (Nintendo, for Wii): 471,000
- Pokemon Platinum (Nintendo, for DS): 433,000
- Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo, for Wii): 210,000
- Wii Play (Nintendo, for Wii): 170,000
- The Godfather II( EA, for Xbox 360): 155,000
- Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, for Xbox 360): 122,000
- New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, for DS): 119,000
- Mario Kart DS (Nintendo, for DS): 112,000
- Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Activision, for Xbox 360): 110,000
- The Godfather II (EA, for PS3): 91,000
I don’t care how many times Nintendo claims that third-party publishers can succeed on Nintendo platforms… because Nintendo will outsell them every time. Despite having boasting six of the top-selling games for April on Nintendo hardware, all six are first-party offerings. Interestingly enough, Excitebots didn’t crack the Top 10 despite being a first-party Wii game. Instead, we’re seeing the “broken record” effect as the same titles just keep on selling. Mario Kart DS? Seriously? New Super Mario Bros. has been around for over 2 years! I can understand the Wii Play numbers since most consumers are buying this for the extra Wii controller, but the first two titles I mentioned have amazing staying power.
Here’s one other observation from the software list: There’s only one PlayStation 3 title on it. There’s no mention of Killzone 2 or MLB 09: The Show here. The PS3 version of Resident Evil 5 has also dropped from the list this month. What’s more, the best-selling PS3 title in April couldn’t even move 100,000 copies? Are you kidding me? Even with inFamous right around the corner and with titles like Uncharted 2, MAG, and God of War 3 coming out in the future, I just cannot envision a scenario where Sony can compete in this generation of consoles. It’s been a spectacular flameout for Sony with the PS3. Arrogance and needless expense have turned a juggernaut into a flea. Granted, nobody thought that the economy would wither as severely as it has… but you could almost tell by listening to Sony brass before the PS3 launch that they just assumed that PS2 owners would just run right out and pick up a PS3. They discounted Nintendo as a force in the industry and underestimated Microsoft’s head start in releasing the Xbox 360 so far ahead of the PS3.
Singling out Sony is the wrong thing to do, however. Microsoft had better be sitting on some top-secret stuff for the Electronics Entertainment Expo, because the slate of upcoming software releases is alarmingly empty. Dissatisfaction with decisions to raise pricing for Xbox Live Arcade releases is also starting to raise eyebrows. (1200 Microsoft Points for Lode Runner? Really?) At least Sony’s got some horses in the stable– what about Microsoft? There’s Halo 3 ODST… and… and… 1 vs. 100? Come on.
I’m not ready to put on my tinfoil hat just yet, but I do think the obvious observation to make about these numbers is that April was a very slow month. One month, however, does not make a trend. If sales continue at a tepid pace for the next couple of months, that’s when the red flags should be hoisted. For now, however, it be worth tying that red flag onto the flagpole… just in case.