Diablo III can't save May game sales

Blizzard's latest becomes the first PC exclusive to top the sales chart since Starcraft II, but total retail sales still down 28% year-over-year.

At the risk of overstating things for the sake of a pun, Diablo III ruled a hellishly bad month of game sales. The NPD Group today revealed its latest figures, revealing that game industry retail sales for the month of May were down 28 percent year-over-year even as Blizzard's latest topped the charts.

Diablo III offered no salvation to a declining game industry.

So far, every month this year has provided double-digit declines in game industry sales, with February's 20 percent decline counting as the best performance of 2012 to date. Hardware was particularly weak for the month (down 39 percent), with the NPD reporting all platforms except for the 3DS sold fewer systems this May than last. As in April, only accessory sales managed to post gains year-over-year, thanks to both increased sales of redeemable cards and Skylanders action figures.

As for why the industry is in such a slump, NPD analyst Anita Frazier said part of the reason was due to a smaller array of titles for customers to choose from. "YTD 2012, there have been 27% fewer new software title introductions into retail which we believe is a big part of the softness we're seeing in May sales," Frazier said, adding, "A title obviously continues to see sales beyond its launch month, so there is a longer term impact from a narrower array of available new content."

As for what did sell, Diablo III left its mark on the charts as the first PC-exclusive title to take the top spot since another Blizzard title, Starcraft II, accomplished the feat in July 2010. The action role-playing game revival pushed PC gaming to $80 million in sales, a 230 percent year-over-year sales bump. Other new releases to hit the chart included Max Payne 3 (second), Ghost Recon Future Soldier (third), Sniper Elite V2 (seventh), and Dragon's Dogma (ninth).

After the numbers were released, Microsoft revealed that it sold 160,000 Xbox 360s during the month, good enough to make the system the best-selling home console for the 17th straight month. In addition, Microsoft said total consumer spending on Xbox 360 games, hardware, and accessories hit $209 million, more than was spent on the Wii and PlayStation 3 combined.

MAY 2012 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total consumer spend (rentals, used sales, digital estimates included): $1.17 billion
Total retail sales: $516.5 million (-28%)
Non-PC hardware: $138.9 million (-39%)
Non-PC software: $255.4 million (-32%)
Total software: $335.2 million (-16%)
Accessories: $122.3 million (+7%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR MAY 2012
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Diablo III (PC) - Activision Blizzard
2. Max Payne 3 (X360, PS3) - Take-Two
3. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (X360, PS3) - Ubisoft
4. Prototype 2 (X360, PS3) - Activision
5. NBA 2K12 (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC) - Take-Two
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (X360, PS3, Wii, PC) - Activision
7. Sniper Elite V2 (X360, PS3) - 505 Games
8. Battlefield 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Electronic Arts
9. Dragon's Dogma (X360, PS3) - Capcom
10. Just Dance 3 (Wii, X360, PS3) - Ubisoft

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ambition_def
ambition_def

There are a multitude of reasons for it though largely due to the subscription based models out there today. 

 

With subscription based models, people are inclined to stick with an existing title rather than try new titles. Despite how lackluster the game can become, people just aren't willing to drop a sub monthly fee to go on and purchase another title in that same month. They'll just continue to look for fun things to do in their sub choice. 

 

Another reason is the emergence of the free to play MMO which I believe DLC doesn't count as a game sale. 

 

Another reason may be that the NA market for gaming hasn't grown much at all as anticipated. Younger kids have about the same odds of being a gamer today as they did 20 years ago which doesn't bode well for future growth. A kid who isn't relegated to the indoors has a social life and friends that will likely spend far less time indoors. 

Abberon
Abberon

This is what happens when game publishers developers are all consolidated under a few giant publishers.  When the development of games is being run by out of touch MBA's and equally out of touch focus groups, you get the garbage we've been peddled over the last couple of years.  There's literally nothing coming up over the next 6 months that I'm even remotely interested in buying.  

jhonel83
jhonel83

Well i can't help but feel I'm beeing ripped and tricked with every new game that comes out. I haven't bough a game in a long time, and I don't plan to, for the reasons stated by others before me. That doesn't mean I don't satify my game hunger, but I'm not buying anything until I've tried it first and play mostly old games from 99-2006.

zaferdepe
zaferdepe

Keep increasing prices, develop silly games with commercial apprehensions and ask "why sales are down?"

Do you know about the economic crysis in Europe also all over the world? I don't think so.

goeyguy03
goeyguy03

games are supposed to be about people having fun.. not other people getting rich off those people... which is ALL that matters to THOSE people... 

goeyguy03
goeyguy03

this info is spread to help us all realize .. more and more .. that the only thing that matters, is what matters to the people who pull the strings... and that what matters most to THOSE people ... is that the infinite growth paradigm, continues to drive humanity in the wrong direction.  and some day, when there is no more oil... then what?  what games will there be?  probably the kind where we everyone goes out onto a field out under the sun, next to another field of solar arrays and plays for... oh my gosh... FUN and not money.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

No big deal. It's exactly what you'd expect as developers get ready for the next gen of consoles.

aphextwin777
aphextwin777

I spend my time playing more Indie games nowadays. The big players in the gaming industry over the last 5 years have definitely lost their way dumbing and stripping down games to try and aim for a more casual player with simplistic design and colourful user inferfaces to appease the less mentally challenged.

 

Diablo 3 is OK but like people said here, it becomes boring and repetitive in it's linearity and lack of randomness.

fadersdream
fadersdream

What are you suggesting? That making new games has an impact on game sales?

Next thing you're going to suggest is that quality has something to do with it too.

Lunacy.

angelknight32
angelknight32

I Love the monthly business reports that are done, interestingly enough would you say these are done for the benefit of us as consumers or for the developers?  If the latter happens to be true wouldn't that effectively eliminate the staff of this website to do reviews objectively?  Thoughts anyone?  

Also a thanks goes out on my behalf to all the consumers that are the cause of this latest slump, people who refuse to be nickel and dimed to death by DLC, and not supporting game designers who are actively putting out sub par products, i.e. Capcom, EA/Bioware, and also supporting the games that should be supported.  Keep up the good work and maybe some of these companies will start putting out complete products for you to purchase.

A_Zlig_C
A_Zlig_C

Sooo should i feel sad that an already incredible successful game isn't going to make as many millions and high unit marks as it did the month before after breaking the record for you know what???? 

Seriously, what's going to happen, they've already cashed out big time, broke some selling  record, and are pretty much set for life. Should i cry that they aren't gonna make much money as the month before??? I know this post was made for  certain reasons and there wasn't really any other tone this article could've gone; but seriously, who in the world of gaming gives a damn?

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

well everythings been stripped down, noobified, broken, drm's nonsense, bad writing, worse storylines, etc etc.

 

you cant mass produce art.   I miss the days when there were lots of smaller companies around.  I used to pickup new titles all the time.  Now i browse the $5 bin every so often, and even then i dont end up playing through half my games anymore.

xdancexyayxnayx
xdancexyayxnayx

i for one could not find diablo 3 for sale in any shops and i refuse to pay the same price for a digital copy as a retail one so waited till hune to get it. The sales will probably not go up till xmas at the earliest as people are fed up of playing fps. We need more quality platformers (like the ps1 days) and strategy games for consoles. Although i love my 360 we also need a better selection of games every other game is either a fps or a kinect title and although i do own kinect i do not want to jump up and down waving my arms everyday.

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

I miss Freespace and Homeworld series. It's not really that hard to play those games. Is the new gaming community not breast feed when they were babies and are now too dumb to comprehend those games?

 

IMO, the FPS genre is too rehashed and barren. They need to stop developing FPS games and make a game that would give new experience to the current gamers. Probably like the crop rotation practice in agriculture.

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

And Diablo 3 is just decent, nothing spectacular...The game has less content than Diablo 2, gets boring pretty fast, is unbalanced, have terribad drm and still lacks pvp

SamiRDuran
SamiRDuran

another nail in the coffin of console gaming

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

For me, Dragon's Dogma has been the best game from May and maybe one of the best games of this year so far.

 

It's a refreshing game that is a nice change of pace from the usual shooters. 

jes82
jes82

 @RoadStar1602  That's a horrible metaphor, comparing a product that costs 15k and upwards with a $60 product. I'm not gonna rehash the reasons they made D3 always online, but you can find it if you take a cursory look over the internet.

 

Despite this, I agree with @NeilCardiff that games have been on a steady decline for years now. The removal of features and the need to make games as generic as possible, and thus, accessible to all is ruining gaming. This trend is similar to Hollywood, where the general quality of blockbusters decreases as they try to squeeze every dollar out of the product. The companies find out the bare minimum amount of features and content that captures the largest population and they then make it. This is why we have Call of Duty 6000. People buy it, despite it now being an old rehash.

 

When the industry was in its fledgling stage, games were catering to a niche within a niche. You had Railroad tycoon, tile strategy games, innovations like Starcraft and Diablo, Rainbow Six. This is just to name a few. Let's look at these games today.

 

RRtycoon - games of this ilk are essentially gone. The last RR came out in 2003. The reason is that these games are niche and they won't earn as many dollars going up against games for the lowest common denominator. On that point, they are too complicated for the avg joe to pick up and play.This complexity is now anathema to the games industry and it is a shame. If they did come out with RR today, you can bet it would be so simplified that a child could figure it out. This trend goes for all of these simulation style games. Fingers crossed for Sim City 5.

 

Tile strategy - No flashy graphics = useless. While there are some studios still putting these games out, they are very hard to find and really don't get enough recognition from the media.

 

Starcraft - This is actually a well done game. Blizzard succeeded here in making a game that's easy to learn and impossible to master.

 

Diablo 3 - They essentially threw their pre WoW fans under the bus making D3 into something akin to a single/co-op version of WoW. It's been gone over in detail but the main point is that features from the old game were cut to make it more average WoW player friendly. While this brings in more customers, it alienates the fans who played the first two games.

 

Rainbow Six - The original was amazing. A tactical shooter where you had to think when executing your hostage rescue missions. These games required planning. Before each mission you had to sit down with a map and plan out the routes for all your teams in great detail. I guess they thought that was too tough for today's gamer as they basically made the game into a CoD clone action shooter.

 

The industry has basically shifted towards a homogenization of content. There used to be a perception that game studios worked with passion. Now, they are simply machines churning out the next re skinned clone of what sells. Key takeaway here is that just because something sells well, it doesn't mean that it's good. There are a lot of stupid people out there.

Dat-tsu
Dat-tsu

Have EA knock it off with ruining great IP's, milking mediocre ones and reviving old ones in ways that no one ever wanted EVER, and have the whole industry in general knock it off with bulls**t DLC practices, and I'll start buying more games.

NeilCardiff
NeilCardiff

I have to blame some of this problem on corporate fanboys who have been attacking anyone who speaks out against developers and distributors for as long as I can remember (maybe many years ago when gaming was a much smaller industry with much smaller sales and companies actually cared about the games they produced they might have had a poin).

Unfortunately it appears that far too many of these fanboys have been employed by corporations as gaming journalists, so now the execs of the gaming industry see articles that call us entitled and decide that we are just spoiled whiners that deserve no respect.

They will blindly and arrogantly keep producing ever more generic games and adding ever more gouging until hell freezes over, they are too out of touch and filled with their own self importance to see the real problems and just keep blaming their failures on piracy and second-hand sales.

RoadStar1602
RoadStar1602

People are starting to wise up to anti-gamer policies like DRM and overpriced games. There's no mystery here. I'm glad it's happening.

 

Look at Diablo III itself. Imagine if you bought a car and found out it had to be perpetually connected to GM's server in order to drive it. Then you got it home and GM's server didn't even work for the first 24 hours, and every Tuesday morning GM's server was down for maintenance for and indefinite period of time so you can't drive the car. On top of that, the GM server frequently lagged while you were driving, causing the car to suddenly stop and back up 10 yards on its own. Sometimes in the middle of driving, you would get disconnected from the server and car would just shut off in the middle of the freeway. That's what gamers who paid $60 for Diablo III are subjected to. People would not accept this sort of nonsense in any other product they purchase, but for some reason, they put up with it in the gaming. 

 

7h3_h4x3r
7h3_h4x3r

I say wait for PVP to be added then will see how it will save D3

anakvunky
anakvunky

... and we need to stop looking back at old times... where the games are great and memorable... gaming industry is now big business no wonder they milking more money from us... we just need to be selective that's all. 

Coolerlew
Coolerlew

StarCraft II was a lot of fun, but I really miss Real Time Strategy games, like Supreme Commander, Age of Empires or Empire Earth.

 

GymFox
GymFox

As many have stated before me, IMO the anti-consumer and profiteering practices of DRM and DLC are slowly dismantling the loyal base of gamers. At this point, I almost consider myself an "Indie" gamer (I know it's a bit ***), because that is where I see true innovation and quality. Super Meatboy, Machinarium, Cave Story, Bastion, Braid, Trine, World of Goo, etc.... I find those games to be amazing and worth the effort. Mostly on short side, but I paid no more than $5 for any of them with Steam sales, and find myself revisiting them for the experience and not the gameplay per se. Remember that guys?!?! When gaming was an experience and not just an endless series of revamped maps and punch lines...   

judgedredd45654
judgedredd45654

a new genre is needed.. move over FPS,RPG,MMO,etc

 

Joe_Joog
Joe_Joog

Wish an epic RPG series like Baldurs Gate/ Champions of Norath was formed.. Diablo 3 was a bore in my personal eyes, played it for a couple of hours.. Diablo 2 was my favourite game years back.. Gaming certainly looks bleak in all honesty.. Im a vivid Fifa, BF fan.. but its just the same old stuff spewed out, I miss days when I actually looked forward to a game coming out like a Child on Christmas eve

jindro
jindro

i have lost alot of faith in the mainstream gaming industry, it has gotten to get more profit then making a game that is fun to play. My favorite game in a long time is binding of isaac and is really cheap and all those free to play games has even more value then those 60$ games. Diablo 3 is one of the shortest lived rpg games i have played and i dont see anything fun playing the same story again and again to get the same item with a different name. Or play a fps playing a 2 hour story and multiplayer with the same repatative maps and slightly differnet weapon choices again and again. 

The_Last_Paladi
The_Last_Paladi

The game industry isn't what it use to be.  I look at the game available for the rest of this year and I am not at all excited about a lot of the games.  In fact, I'm more excited for the kickstarter projects I have invested in than the mainstream gaming industry.  All my money seems to be going into the kickstarter projects that aren't going to come out until next year than any games for this year.

jhonel83
jhonel83

 @ambition_def

You make it sound like spending time outdoors is a bad thing. Problem to me is that current games don't offer the same challange as they used to do. When I was 12 I was discussing strats over Baldur's Gate with my friends. Nowadays, kids are treated to brain dead games which require nothing more then point and click. As I said before, I think publishers should adress a certain demographic, not try to attract them all. Make kid games for kids, and hardcore for the vets, not trying to attract them all. Greed dictated everything in this industry today, even big companies like Blizzard. This is just sad.

aleonard
aleonard

 @jhonel83 thought I was the only one who was dissatisfied with the quality of games. sadly though I've been trying and buying some of the new ones and sometimes I don't even finish them (dragon age 2...lol). So back to diablo 2, a game from an era when sequels rivaled the originals like balur's gate and leisure suit larry.

MihaiHornet
MihaiHornet

 @jhonel83 Agreed! Last year and this year so far I (re)played mostly older games. I still have some oldies in my backlog.

slydfx
slydfx

 @angelknight32 Put down the controller, I think you have reached that age where you got to let it go :)

A_Zlig_C
A_Zlig_C

Sorry for some grammatical errors, I only have so many f*cks I could  give

NuKyy
NuKyy

 @jes82 AMEN!!!!!!!But if  "they are simply machines churning out the next re skinned clone of what sells" its because people do actually buy those games whatever it sucks or not, cause "hey its from blizzard theyve made wow", I know too many that have played wow since the burning crusade and wont leave the game ever, I even heard a guy saying that the elder scrolls copied wow ¬_¬, but even bethesda has simpliefied their games to death and became too greedy...

RoadStar1602
RoadStar1602

 @jes82 A $15,000 car would translate to something along the lines of a $20 game. Diablo is $60, which places it at the top tier price point. If you want to make a fair comparison, you need to compare it to a $50,000 BMW, not a $15,000 Kia. Your reasons for dismissing the comparison are irrational and invalid. Naturally an automobile and a game will not be anywhere near the same price because you are not getting anywhere near the same thing. With a car, you're getting 4000 lbs of steel and other materials that cost infinitely more to engineer and manufacture than a DVD-ROM game.

 

The completely accurate and fair comparison I make deals with the functionality and quality of what you get for your money. If you would like to compare something that costs about $60 instead, how about a coffee maker? What if you had to connect your coffee pot to Mr. Coffee's server at all times. What if you couldn't make coffee on Tuesday because Mr. Coffee was performing server maintenance? What if sometimes your coffee maker started making a pot of coffee, then suddenly stopped for no reason and dumped all the coffee and grounds and you had to start over? What if one day Mr. Coffee decided to take their coffee servers offline, rendering your $60 coffee maker (which is still working) completely useless? Would you buy a coffee maker like that? Of course not, but you've been brainwashed into believing it's okay to buy a video game like that.

 

If you don't like that comparison either, fine. Compare it to the countless other games that have been and are still being released that do not require DRM or a constant connection to a server. No one is saying get rid of online multiplayer. All anyone is saying is that Diablo 3 should include a single player offline mode, as did Diablo and Diablo 2. There is absolutely no reason this feature should be disabled in the game. None, that is, except for DRM. Like it or not, it's a power grab.

Fowsed
Fowsed

 @jes82 u realy sounded like a anarchist there... i agree, but not all games sufer. My regrets are with Diablo 3.. and with Call of duty,  they do not tend to import new gameplay... too bad

Stratix88
Stratix88

 @jes82 Very well said; these are my exact thoughts on where the industry is now and where it is heading. Great post.

ACWH
ACWH

 @NeilCardiff The people you perceive to be corporate fanboys are in fact employees of any given organisation's marketing department. Their job is to come on forums and comments sections and defend the company by pretending to be some random customer.

mrboone01
mrboone01

 @NeilCardiff I agree. The writer of this article along with Laura Parker ( and the majority of the rest of GS staff ) are some of those guilty parties, doing their best to suck on Bioware/EA's nuts during the whole ME3 ending flap.

Eraldus
Eraldus

 @7h3_h4x3r If the pvp is the only thing going for D3, then DEFINITELY it isn't  worth the 60 bucks it's going for...

Necrosis
Necrosis

Yeah, I just gave over $300 combined recently to Project Fedora, Space Venture, and Quest for Infamy.  These will be great games, made by people who want to make great games, and without a cent going to the publishers who turned these games down.

Kastigador
Kastigador

 @jhonel83

 My 14-yr old nephew is a gamer, but not like I was gamer back in NES days. He plays games on his ipad, iphone, and free to play games online. Funny thing is he has a 360 but uses it only for netflix streaming. He also used to play those wildy popular kid focused free-to-play browser games online which honestly make the Nintendo 64 look still relevant. He owned a nintendo DS, but the iPad blew it out of the water as far as he was concerned. In other news, retail game sales are down but big box game developers are still making tons of money and indie game developers are hitting a golden age. This headline just focuses on the change in consumption of game, not that consumers are losing interest.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

 @mrboone01 That's a bit dramatic, don't you think?  

 

Saying gaming, a billion dollar industry, is dying is akin to Yogi Berra saying "the place is so busy no one comes here anymore"

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

 @mrboone01 Oh come on. Let's compare this year with last year:

 

2011, May releases:  LA Noire, Witcher 2, Dirt 3, F.3.A.R., Hunted: Demon's Forge, Bioshock 2 Minerva's Den DLC, Brink, Fable 3 (PC)

 

2012, May releases:  Diablo 3, Max Payne 3, Ghost Recon

 

Isn't it more likely we're seeing decreases in sales because the current console gen is winding down?

 

This happens every console gen.  Don't act like this is anything new.