Black Ops on top as December sales slide 9% - NPD

Record-breaking performance for shooter can't pull gaming industry to end the year on a high note; Kinect leads accessory sales to best month ever.

The game industry received a lump of coal in its stocking this Christmas, as the industry-tracking NPD Group today revealed underwhelming total US retail sales of gaming hardware and software for the month of December. According to those figures, sales dropped significantly for the month, despite some analysts' hopes for growth. For the month of December, the NPD Group reported that total US retail sales of gaming software, hardware, and accessories were $5.06 billion, down 9 percent from the same period last year.

With sales of 12 million, Black Ops isn't exactly keeping a low profile.

Activision's blockbuster Call of Duty: Black Ops repeated as the best-selling game of the month and has now reached sales of 12 million in the US alone. According to the NPD Group, that's more than double the next best-selling game of the year, EA Sports' Madden NFL 11. Unfortunately, not even Black Ops' continued success could push software sales into positive territory. Console, handheld, and PC games combined to sell $2.53 billion, down about 5 percent year-over-year.

The software charts saw a handful of new faces, led by Cataclysm, the latest expansion to Blizzard's massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. Cataclysm debuted in third place, behind only Black Ops and Ubisoft's Wii-exclusive rhythm hit, Just Dance 2. Two more new arrivals in the top 10 were technically released in November but arrived too late in the month to top the charts. Disney Epic Mickey claimed sixth place in December, while Michael Jackson The Experience put another Ubisoft dance game in the top 10 at the eighth spot.

While the King of Pop's game came out on the Wii, DS, and PSP, Ubisoft has said nearly 90 percent of the copies sold were from the Wii version, making for an atypically strong showing from a number of third-party exclusives on Nintendo's console. Nintendo itself managed to place only one of its own games in the top 10, the fifth-place Retro Studios-developed Donkey Kong Country Returns.

A number of other titles would have been on a list of the top 10 best-selling SKUs but didn't make the cut for the NPD Group's multiplatform overall sales list. Those games included Microsoft's Kinect Sports and Dance Central, as well as THQ's UDraw Studio for the Wii, which came packed in with the UDraw Tablet peripheral.

Much like the software market, hardware sales were depressed in December, with US retailers moving only $1.84 billion worth of consoles and portables, down 16 percent year-over-year. There were some success stories in the mix, however, as the Xbox 360 posted its best month of sales ever, selling 1.9 million units. It was also the only system to post a year-over-year increase in unit sales. However, Nintendo's DS still topped the hardware charts for the month, pushing its US lifetime-to-date sales to 47 million and surpassing the PlayStation 2.

The only improved market segment for December was accessory sales. Peripherals enjoyed their best single-month sales total ever, raking in $853.2 million, a jump of 10 percent from 2009 levels. The Kinect was the best-selling peripheral for the second month in a row, while online currency and subscription card sales increased the most over last December's numbers.

"December 2010 represented one of the strongest monthly performances the industry has ever had at retail," Entertainment Software Association president Michael Gallagher said in a statement released alongside the numbers. "It was a robust finish to a year marked by innovation and engaging millions of consumers through a multitude of delivery models. Computer and video games led all other entertainment options as we responded to consumers' demands for creative content on every platform from consoles to smart phones to handheld game devices."

DECEMBER 2010 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $5.06 billion (-9%)
Non-PC hardware: $1.84 billion (-16%)
Total software: $2.53 billion (-5%)
Non-PC software: $2.37 billion (-8%)
Accessories: $853.2 million (+10%)

TOP 10 GAMES
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, Wii, PC, DS) - Activision
2. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - Ubisoft
3. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC) - Blizzard
4. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (360, PS3) - Ubisoft
5. Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) - Nintendo
6. Disney Epic Mickey (Wii) - Disney Interactive Studios
7. Madden NFL 11 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP) - Electronic Arts
8. Michael Jackson The Experience (Wii, DS, PSP) - Ubisoft
9. NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC) - 2K Sports
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3, 360, Wii, PC) - Electronic Arts

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Discussion

59 comments
TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Congrats to the top ten. But alot of these franchises have been around for years. I hope some fresh titles make the list for this upcoming year.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

On a semi related note, anybody playing zombies please PLUG IN YOUR MICS and if you see a crawler DON'T SHOOT THE DARN THING!!!!!!!

Link3301
Link3301

@BusterKirk I pretty sure used game sales are not counted.

codename-60091
codename-60091

seriously Skullfire, you think hot pursuit 2 is a good game? jesus christ, kids these days are getting poor marketing because of all clogged up working adults and EA advertising Kings!

freestyler_85
freestyler_85

its sad that a generic rehash like Black Ops is making more money than games that truly deserve it.

Skull-Fire
Skull-Fire

Whenever I play Hot Pursuit online, hardly anyones one. So I figured it mustnt have sold very well but it's number 10 o.O

BusterKirk
BusterKirk

three words; "used game sales" those that said Game and Gamestation aren't to blame for introducing this to the market should now eat their hat

DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

said it before and ill say it again, enough of black ops already! besides, 2011 is looking a stronger year with game releases

Flint247
Flint247

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

benboz
benboz

I haven't bought Black Ops yet and never will.

ecw1983
ecw1983

@Evolution-X0 2010 boring year for gaming ?! Look at the releases ! Sorry dude every year it gets better and better. Every year we get more AAA titles. 2003-2006 we might have got one or two every 6 months if we were lucky, now(2008-2010) not only are we getting two to three every month but we are getting top games in Jan and Feb, unheard of back in the early to mid 2000's

thespartaan
thespartaan

lets say the truth, my biggest dissapointment in my gaming history gt5 and so it doesnt deserve to be selling that good. and i am a ps3 gamer no fanboy S***

Evolution-X0
Evolution-X0

2010 was a boring year for games imo. Lets hope 2011 can do better.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Literally looking at this list there's only about 3 games that interest me :/ oh wait maybe four (just seen MBA). This list really does suprise me. People don't have much taste!

DS_fan_atic
DS_fan_atic

So pretty much evens out between all platforms, they all had a good Christmas.

-Unreal-
-Unreal-

People should bear in mind that Cataclysm is only an expansion AND is pay to play, yet it still manages to become one of the highest selling games on a single platform, even more impressive is that the platform is the PC.

Foxdies
Foxdies

if only they fixed the broken game.. havent seen this many freezes since fallout new vegas..

Black_Adder_
Black_Adder_

I don't get it - why buy Black ops? You can trade it in cheap if you want to try it's awesomeness and save a bit of money and frustration.

minhas27
minhas27

Black ops stii selling.......how

steelmouth
steelmouth

best-selling game of the year,is EA Sports' Madden NFL 11 at ~6 mil, how much it halo reach sell becoz halo3 did somthing lik 7-8 mil ps the new NPD report suck,they might as well not bother

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I'm so proud of NBA 2k11, it's right back where it belongs, enjoying the sells it deserves.

TheArcade
TheArcade

NPD isn't half as interesting any more now that they don't breakdown individual item numbers.

calvinsora
calvinsora

Michael Jackson The Experience? Really, with all the quality Wii titles, they chose that?

Dantat
Dantat

Terrible news... Developers have less incentive to create innovative games when they can just make a knockoff dance game which will sell in the millions.

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

I bought black ops (my first ever CoD game purchased new, so i contributed partly to the growth) Cataclysm which I'm playing as I type this, Brotherhood which was awesome, and Hot Pursuit which was similarly awesome. I think the fact that only one of these actually came out in the month of December is the real reason there was a sales slide like that--about midway through I was wanting to play a new game, but there were none around, so i got one from earlier this year instead.

taxonomic
taxonomic

I didn't buy a single game in that top 10 list. I'm kinda shocked that Mass Effect 2 and RDR aren't there.

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

@Calvinx8 GT5 is stucked at 1 million sales. Not an awful performance, but Sony expected much much more. Just as everyone who played the game.

shaun_ofda_dead
shaun_ofda_dead

In other news, the sky is blue and Kotick is still a tool.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@PixelAddict It's actually my son's Wii, and I have it in his room hooked up to a Samsung 32in LCD, which is only 720p, but the Wii looks nice on it. He has the 360 hooked to it also, which looks real good. It's nice having kids that are in to video games, that way I can buy games, then tell the wife that they are for the kids, and then I get to play them as well! So far they have been good with picking out solid titles, and no off the wall stuff, or shovelware for either system.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Yay Donkey kong Country returns is 5th ^_^

wiidsduelpack
wiidsduelpack

I would say that the high cost of smart phones have something to do with this. The cost of everything is increasing. Gaming is no longer the #1 thing to do anymore

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

wow nice to see dkc 4 among other wii exclusive 3rd party titles ,this is new , its about time people realise wii games exist , seams like nearly every game on this list is available on t he wii in som form to ,

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

@godzillavskong Good call on the component cables. I'd rather it was in HD, but I will take what I can get. Turns out, Nintendo can make even HD-lite look good! SMG1 and 2 were great games, and I can see why 2 was picked by many as GotY. TRULY a great game. So innovative, and just the right amount of motion-use.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@PixelAddict Yeah, it looks like it would be, that, and the fact that most of the reviews are high on that game. I haven't had the Wii long, but the games that I do have are really fun. Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Zelda Twilight Princess are very addictive. I got the component cables for the Wii, which gives it a slight upgrade to 480i, and SMG looks great! No matter what happens on the cutting edge of technology, Nintendo just seems to know what it takes to make a fun game.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

@godzillavskong Definitely get Donkey Kong Country Returns. That game is a blast!

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Surprises: Wow MJ x 2. First Michael Jordan on NBA2K11, then the King of Pop himself. Slaying the big racers. Madness! Glad to see Hot Pursuit make the top 10. I'm loving that game. You can tell Criterion (the Burnout guys!) had a hand in it. It's great fun.

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

wow gt5 after all the 5-6 years of hardwork and constantly delaying just for the heck of it.Isnt even in the top 10.(no hate just sayin the truth)

MorbisDraconis
MorbisDraconis

Need for Speed was a surprise hit for last year. I'm glad to see that it did very well.

kbaily
kbaily

Nice to see Mickey and DK doing well.

Dark_Infinite
Dark_Infinite

Poor GT5 after all the hard work they put in...

x3ni1992
x3ni1992

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

x3ni1992
x3ni1992

Nice to see Epic Mickey and Donkey Kong up there!