ChartSpot: March 2006

[UPDATE] Sales see 16 percent year-on-year decline; Kingdom Hearts II, Sims 2: Open for Business top console and PC sellers. NPD analyst comments on the slide.

After weeks of dire predictions, industry research group NPD Funworld has finally released its sales figures for March 2006. As analysts prognosticated, the month saw a sharp decline in sales, despite several high-profile releases.

Overall game sales were $819 million, 16 percent less than in March 2005. Game software totaled $499 million, down 8 percent versus March 2005, and game accessories rang up $100 million, down 11 percent from a year ago. The biggest decline, though, was in hardware, which saw only $220 million in sales--a whopping 31 percent slide from the same time a year ago. Of course, March 2005 saw the launch of an entirely new platform--the PSP. (See the interview with NPD analyst Anita Frazier, below, for more on the impact last year's PSP launch had on March '06 stats.)

Through the end of March, 2006 saw $2.2 billion in game sales, down 5.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2005. Despite the March drop, hardware is actually up just under 1 percent for the year, totaling $662 million. $1.2 billion of game software was sold during the three-month period--an 8 percent decline. Game accessory sales totaled $302 million during the period, a 7 percent drop.

During March, the top console game was Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts II, which sold more than 614,000 copies in North America. Behind it was Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter for the Xbox 360, followed by Electronic Arts' Black for the PlayStation 2.

Two other critically acclaimed Xbox 360 games, Fight Night Round 3 and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, also cracked the top 10. The Collector's Edition of Oblivion also did well--though NPD lists the pair as separate products. If they were combined, sales of the two versions of Oblivion would make it the number-three console game for the month.

In March, the Sims continued their domination of the PC charts. The latest expansion, The Sims 2: Open for Business, was the month's top seller, moving more than 230,000 units. That was more than second-place finisher Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and far ahead of the other Sims game in the PC top 10, The Sims 2.

ALL CONSOLES
RankTitlePlatformPublisher
1Kingdom Hearts IIPS2 Square Enix
2Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced WarfighterXbox 360Ubisoft
3BlackPS2 Electronic Arts
4Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionXbox 3602K Games
5MLB '06: The ShowPS2SCEA
6Fight Night Round 3PS2Electronic Arts
7BlackXboxElectronic Arts
8The GodfatherPS2Electronic Arts
9Fight Night Round 3Xbox 360Electronic Arts
10God of WarPS2SCEA
11Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Collector's EditionXbox 3602K Games
12Metroid Prime: HuntersDSNintendo
13Sonic RidersGCSega
14Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasPS2Rockstar Games
15Super Princess PeachDSNintendo
16The Godfather XboxElectronic Arts
17Metal Gear Solid 3: SubsistencePS2Konami
18Fight Night Round 3XboxElectronic Arts
19Gran Turismo 4PS2SCEA
2024: The GamePS22K Games

PC
RankTitlePublisher
1The Sims 2: Open for BusinessElectronic Arts
2Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion2K Games
3Star Wars: Empire at WarLucasArts
4The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth IIElectronic Arts
5World of WarcraftVivendi Universal
6Dungeons & Dragons Online: StormreachAtari
7Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Collector's Edition2K Games
8Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth II - Collector's EditionElectronic Arts
9The Sims 2Electronic Arts
10Age of Empires IIIMicrosoft
11Civilization IV2K Games
12Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach - Limited EditionAtari
13Battlefield 2Electronic Arts
14Dungeons & Dragons Online: StormreachAtari
15Call of Duty 2Activision
16Guild WarsNCsoft
17The Sims 2: Nightlife Electronic Arts
18The Sims Complete CollectionElectronic Arts
19Warcraft III: Battle ChestVivendi Universal
20Command & Conquer: The First DecadeElectronic Arts

[UPDATE] Shortly after the sales figures were released, GameSpot spoke with NPD Funworld entertainment industry analyst Anita Frazier.

GameSpot: Is increased output of 360s having any impact on industry revenues yet, or is the console being in short supply still a culprit when it comes to overall sales?

Anita Frazier: I think it's still in short supply, meaning that demand is still exceeding readily available supply, but there are signs that things are loosening up at retail. I stopped into a specialty retail store last week and although they didn't have any 360's at that time, they had just a few days prior. So although I haven't yet seen one sitting on a shelf waiting for me to pick it up, I also don't see the same hopeless expressions on the sales personnel's faces that I did a couple of months ago. More inventory is good for the industry in terms of helping to spur greater interest in software sales as well.

GS: Do you see this transition anemia sticking around for the duration of the year, or at least until the Revolution and PS3 are released?

AF: It is worse than I expected it to be, and I think it is going to remain so for the foreseeable future. We don't know many details about either the Revolution or PS3 launch yet, but I think Sony made it pretty clear at GDC that there aren't going to be abundant supplies at launch, so at this point, my bet is that the remainder of the year will indeed be a bit stormy.

GS: Assuming a November release for both new hardware systems, what kind of a December could it turn out to be for the industry? Wildly profitable?

AF: There are too many unanswered questions to make an educated guess at that! Yes, purely looking at the total industry revenue figures, when new systems are released at those (relatively) high price points, sales get a very nice boost. But for it to have more widespread impact on the industry, software sales need to accompany those hardware sales. And the extent to which that will happen will depend on available hardware inventory, and attractiveness of the launch title lineup.

GS: Other side of the coin: how damaging to revenues would a slip until next year for the Rev and PS3 be for the game industry?

AF: A big impact, to be sure. But again, only when we get a sense of how much "could" be sold--meaning the magnitude of available inventory--will we have a sense of how beneficial, or on the flip-side damaging, either scenario can be.

GS: What are the significant events in the year that could turn these doldrums into more robust times, revenue-wise? Is there any single game, or any games, that when released, you see as driving significant revenues?

AF: I don't think any single event can single-handedly rescue the industry. I think some great titles, a Zelda perhaps, can be really helpful. And there are probably five or six more [titles] that have big potential. More 360 inventory, a great PS3 and Revolution launch....all of these could help jumpstart the industry.

GS: What's behind the deep dip in HW revenues for March, year over year?

AF: Where do I start? Hardware dollars are down, due to portable. Last year, this segment of the market helped buoy the industry, and so far portable hardware dollars are not holding up in comparison. On the other hand, console dollars are up. When systems are priced at $300 or $400 each, it doesn't take a lot of units to leave a significant impact on dollar sales. Software is down too, again more so in the portable space than in console. So while portable had its big moment last year, it's now facing competition from the new (or soon to be new) next-gen console systems. Whether consumers are purchasing 360's or simply holding off portable purchases in anticipation of a future (relatively pricey) console hardware acquisition, that segment is drawing consumers' mind and dollar share.

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123 comments
sword_stalker
sword_stalker

I bought Kingdom hearts 2 the first day it came out, so I understand it's on the first place...

stunner20
stunner20

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

stunner20
stunner20

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

stunner20
stunner20

Yeah of course the PS2 is still outselling anything else in software. Common sense says that this will be so. What M$ should be afraid of is the fact that people are still buying PS2 games instead of getting a 360. Sony wants gamers to continue to buy PS2 games until PS3 comes out. Thats why they put some big titles on greatest hits. If people keep buying PS2 games and not buying 360s then PS3 may have an easier launch than M$ wants. For me however i just baught FFXI for PS2 to keep my busy up until PS3 comes out. And its working quite well.

UntoldDreams
UntoldDreams

The sales statistics are just for March 2006... Any long analysis is not worth it. If next month sales dropped like a rock for XBox games your analysis is worthless. Anyways... Just buy the games you like and stop trying to convince everyone you are on the "winning team". Whatever "winning" means these days.... On Gamespot I think winning means attacking other people. Some of you guys would make great suicide bombers...

ApHoTiK
ApHoTiK

Xbox 360 are in the charts because the people that own the console dont have a big game collection yet, so any decent new games will get snapped up fast. while ps2 has a huge back cat and second hand market so its less desirabled to get latest games for full price sometimes unless they are awesome (cant explain 24 the game though sorry ) ;)

Sharingan-X
Sharingan-X

Kingdom hearts 2 is ok but i didn't expect it to be #1 (just read my review) considering that GRAW is a better game, and I am a KH fan and all but you got to give the props to the better game.

godovivel
godovivel

wow i don`t believe PS2 still ruuuuuuullllllllleezz

aniseed
aniseed

Pretty amazing that X360 has such strong chart positions, being so new platform and all. As of now, Future looks good.

minerl99
minerl99

This is for all the people who may be trying interpret and/or downplay the sales charts. Question: How many of you are from Rhode Island vs California. And who would want a sales terrritory of Rhode Island instead of California to sell your products?? No one, if you had any sense... Fact: Population California = 36 million Rhode Island = 1 million Population PS2's = 100 million 360's = 3 million California has 36 times the people of Rhode Island PS2 has 33 times the consoles of the 360 I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE SELLING GIRL SCOUT COOKIES, CARS OR LEMONADE. IF YOU CAN GET TO THE TOP SPOTS ON A SALES CHART SELLING INTO RHODE ISLAND, YOUVE GOT A TON OF PEOPLE IN RHODE ISLAND SPENDING MONEY!! Anyway, you slice it's very impressive to see the 360 titles ranking on this chart and it shows that people in California (PS2 owners in this analogy) are just not buying a ton of PS2 titles. Sure they've got some older titles to chose from, but the majority of the titles on both platforms are new. And that's what tends to sell best on all platforms, are new games. PS2 buyers are not spending money. Why? Maybe they're saving up for a PS3. Maybe they're saving up for a Revolution. Maybe they are saving up for a 360. Rhode Island (ie 360 owners) are spending a ton of money on games. Why? Personally, I think it's because we're blown away by many (not all) of these titles. Many are worth every penny. And no they aren't all $60. I can pick up 360 titles from Gamefly.com for $30-40. Almost the same at Fry's Electronics and others. I have so many using that $60 figure. That's the retail price. Shop a little. Whatever the reason, Rhode Island is a force. If California has gone to sleep as much as it would appear, the industry should be down 70% or more in sales, but that's not the case. Rhode Island is realling pulling it's weight! ;-)

minerl99
minerl99

RoninMunky01, Since all your games reviewed are PS2 with a couple of PC games, I take it your not a 360 fan. YOU SAID, Please consider the fact that the Xbox360 has about 40+ games in its library as oppose to PS2's HUNDREDS of games in its library. It's pretty logical then that the average rating for PS2 game OVERALL will have a 72 in gamerankings. Wait for another 6 years for the Xbox360's game library to grow and i bet everything i own that "77" Xbox 360 game consensus rating will go down for sure. I SAY, Why???? Why would fewer games mean a higher rating by magazines and review sites by IGN and Gamespot. In fact, if you notice many of the games shipped for both the PS2 and Xbox 360 have a slightly higher rating on the PS2. I'd attribute some of that to bias. It's like the Olympic judging for figure skating. It's never a surprise when the ice skater's judge from there country gives much higher scores.... With 100 million PS2 owners the fan boy percentage is fairly high with PS2's (even among reviews to some extent), so the 360 has no edge in the reviews. It matters not how many games are released. According to the 360 bashers, the launch had the worst lineup of titles of any launch ever, so it whether it's 50 games or 10 games, they should easily score less than the 72 consensus average of the PS2 games... Or could it be that the consensus is that the 360 does have a good percentage of solid launch titles... Give credit where credit is due. The 360 has a good quality lineup. No question the PS2 has some high rated games, but there is a TON of very low quality games released for the PS2. Overall, the 360 has solid launch titles. If you were looking for some "common sense" logic, you might have tried, that there is an industry conspiracy to give the 360 titles higher ratings to boost game sales during this slump, but you didn't. If you had however, thought of that, it would have been somewhat nullified by the scores of the PS2 games on the same titles. There is no conspiracy. YOU SAID, So before you use this gameranking consensus rating crap again, think and use some common sense. I SAY, It's not crap. It's hyperlinked right from the www.gamespot.com home page, so not only do I disagree with you, so does Gamespot. I'd rethink how you'ved interpreted the "CONSENSUS" ratings on www.gamerankings.com. Many of the 360 titles have consensus ratings from 50 or more sources...

thekey
thekey

Games thats what it's all about. If the 360 has the games it is and will continue to be a dominate force, even though revenues are down its not as big of a deal that one might think. And I don't believe that KHII is number 1 when it was released at the end of march, but what ever.

777rak
777rak

I am happy to see EAW is on the list

Toadonpa
Toadonpa

On a related note to the Xbox 360, I was at Best Buy yesterday and they had some Xbox 360s for sale. Two premiums, two core. There may have been more in the back, I don't know.

elrebo
elrebo

I think they shouldn't break games. I mean I want to see combined sales of oblivion in xbox/pc including the collectors edition.

tr00pa_26
tr00pa_26

Even with the realese of XbOX360 PS2 still RUle YEah

Rickortiz7
Rickortiz7

the reason KH2 is numbah 1 is because its the best video game EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and then its WOW!!!)

HSYOON_1
HSYOON_1

" Sure, GRAW kind of sucks on other consoles, and Fight Night 3 is best, so far, on 360. But is that why you shelled out all that cash? " are you serious? Have seen with your own two eyes, the difference between GRAW and FNR3 for PS2 and the 360. and GRAW on the other consoles, didn't just "KIND OF SUCKED." They were atrocious compared to the 360 one. I can't believe some fanboys are so blinded by brand loyalty that they actually think that this looks http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/sports/fightnightround3/screenindex.html ANYTHING like this. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/sports/fightnightround3/screenindex.html or how this can even be compared http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/tomclancysghostrecon3/index.html to this http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/tomclancysghostrecon3/index.html?q=ghost%20recon I know graphics aren't everything, but again, we are talking about the SAME game, so of course better graphics DO count. It's a whole other level of immersion. and the answer to your question is a BIG ****IN YES. Apparently 3 million users also DID pay for this. I say it's a huge step forward for ALL gamers. Don't worry, in November, you can have you cake and eat it too.

samekila
samekila

havent got graw yet been playing oblivion and pgr3 to much guess I need to get it

NightRain
NightRain

I'm surprised a gamecube game made the list too, but you gotta know that Sonic games are VERY good sellers for the gamecube. It seems either the Sonic fans has embraced Nintendo's console or it's Nintendo fans who's embraced Sonic. Either way it's cool. Not enough DS games on the list. I prefer the one in Japan. :)

jvonrader
jvonrader

It'd be bad of people to read in some sort of Xbox ownage b/c KH2 was #1 on the list over the 360. When the PS3 comes out, the PS2 is still going to be #1...simply b/c it has the most customers. What *is*pretty impressive is the 360 game sales #s with as small of a user base as there is, being that it's only been around for 5 months...4 of which were under a shortage.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I'm a little surprised by the Kingdom Hearts II numbers. I was actually expecting it to be in the 700,000-800,000 range.

ZeldaMaster32
ZeldaMaster32

Kingdom Hearts II is rocking the charts, and I'm pleased. I just wonder why Metroid Prime Hunters isn't higher up.

WeeWeeJumbo
WeeWeeJumbo

Playing GTA doesn't make you mature, but even GTA III is ten times the game that Kingdom Hearts one and two are. If you are 42 and play KH and Pokemon, let me suggest MGS: Subsistence, Resident Evil 4 and The Warriors. You might be surprised how much adult themes can add to a work, when they are handled with style and flair. It helps that all three games are freaking spectacular. Just put the kids to bed and enjoy one of the best thrills of adulthood: socially sanctioned naughtiness. Try it, you'll like it. Also some goofball said earlier that we should be impressed that three 360 games made the top 10. Are you saying the 360 lineup is great? First of all, at this time, any 360 game that isn't complete junk is basically a guaranteed smash hit, which is the case with every launch line-up. What else are 360 owners going to buy? Last-generation games for their older consoles? The lame first-generation 360 games? Of course any 360 game that scores an 8.0 or higher is going to fly off the shelves. It's not like these games are competing with a huge stable of critically-acclaimed AAA titles now available at Greatest Hits prices. Are you really impressed even though, of the three 360 games that made it to the top 10, not one is a 360 exclusive? Sure, GRAW kind of sucks on other consoles, and Fight Night 3 is best, so far, on 360. But is that why you shelled out all that cash? To play better versions (or equivalent versions) of games available elsewhere? Wow, you sure are easily pleased. I guess you'd have to be, to justify your 360's purchase. Relax, man. Like every new system, the 360 has yet to justify itself. Give it time. Don't jump the gun and pretend it's already the best system in the world, because at this time it totally isn't. Or are you trying to say the top 20 rankings indicate that the 360 has sold well? As you yourself mentioned, the PS2 sold over 100 million units in 6 years. That's about 17 million units a year, or about 8.5 million units every six months. Tell me again, how many 360s have sold in its first five months? Let me know if I'm misunderstanding something.

advent6
advent6

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

advent6
advent6

There are most likely 2 Oblivions because 1 is the collectors edition and the other is the standard. They should be both together! They would probably be #1 if they were. This is a very deceiving list when they are separated.

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

"The typical western comments and reactions. SOme people might even tell you that ALL games are for kids. What's wrong with cartoony visuals? Have you seen all the adults that come out of disney films? WHy does cartoony not appealing to adults only reflect in games and not movies or even TV shows? At least the Japanese have gotten over the visuals are most important. Maybe one day, American gamers will evolve and actually start playing games based on .... the game." Agreed mhder, funny to see kids who think they look older or more "mature" because they "haven't touched Disney since they were 7 or 8" :lol: I'm 42 and also play KH, Pokemon and other "kiddie" titles. People should learn to appreciate a game for what it is, and playing Grand Theft Auto doesn't make you mature BTW.

Seraphim_24
Seraphim_24

KH 2 making the top spot is no suprise, but I was shocked that Oblivion didn't score # 2 on teh console market. It's shameful that someone might not have bought that master piece!

randomguy667
randomguy667

Am I one of the few who noticed an expansion pack beat Oblivion? And a sims one mind you all, thats pretty sad.

mhder
mhder

weird a Disney filled kids game is the #1 selling game, to me thats sad. Oh well tho doesnt really matter tho, Ill take Oblivion any day over that. I stopped having anything to do with Disney when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The cartoony visuals don't exactly help it appeal to older gamers, however the gameplay and story line is what is truly appealing about this game. The typical western comments and reactions. SOme people might even tell you that ALL games are for kids. What's wrong with cartoony visuals? Have you seen all the adults that come out of disney films? WHy does cartoony not appealing to adults only reflect in games and not movies or even TV shows? At least the Japanese have gotten over the visuals are most important. Maybe one day, American gamers will evolve and actually start playing games based on .... the game.

PringerOtaku
PringerOtaku

Bah, GRAW is overrated. And, the Sims? When will people learn not to buy crappy games? Nice list though, despite some EA titles being on there. >.> Go Oblivion! KH2 is overrated too. Tch.

Clarky3
Clarky3

there was a lot of PS2 games as usual and there were a lot of good games in the PC Chart

jonnytran
jonnytran

dukerav weird a Disney filled kids game is the #1 selling game, to me thats sad. Oh well tho doesnt really matter tho, Ill take Oblivion any day over that. I stopped having anything to do with Disney when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Whats sad is that you have generalised kh2 as a "Disney filled kids game". Though that is your opinion, assuming that you practically know nothing about the actual game itself or even played it, kh2 is far off from being a "Disney filled kids game" You could say that kh2 is a much less mature game compared to Oblivion, and it does appeal to the older gamers more then kh2, but that doesn't make kh2 a kids game. The cartoony visuals don't exactly help it appeal to older gamers, however the gameplay and story line is what is truly appealing about this game. I highly doubt I managed to change your opinion on the game, in no way am I asking you to play it either, but this game is a lot different compared to what normal disney games are released. Remember that this game was not released by disney, but by square-enix(Final Fantasy series, Chrono series etc...) using some disney characters.

redman7t
redman7t

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

slowloris
slowloris

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

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

People still buy more (stupid IMO) Sims games over Oblivion!!?? No wonder EA has become so big.

0diablo0
0diablo0

people are saying "well no-duh the ps2 is selling more it has way more units out than the 360" but if you think with the original ps, the year the ps2 came out the games topped the charts even though the ps1 had been in for 5 years so considering that the 360 still cant take over the ps2 that pretty sad....

dukerav
dukerav

weird a Disney filled kids game is the #1 selling game, to me thats sad. Oh well tho doesnt really matter tho, Ill take Oblivion any day over that. I stopped having anything to do with Disney when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Doolum
Doolum

So sad not to see any PSP titles in the top console 20 list.Guess this is soon to change with releases lie WRC.Tomb Raider Legend,Monster Hunter and long awaited Gran Turismo mobile.Not mentioning Namco's Tekken

wokisan
wokisan

I almost wonder if Gamespot does little stuff like this on purpose to create a bit of 'controversy'. How hard is it for them to insert a "CE" behind the 2nd Oblivion listing. Likewise give us the amount of games sold for each listing in the top 20. It would cut out alot of this speculation...of course now I'm speculating as well....LOL.