NPD: April's sweet 16 gives temporary reprieve

Industry leaps to 16 percent increase over April '05, but most analysts don't see trend continuing through summer; Kingdom Hearts II, MLB 2K6, Xbox 360 availability spur sales.

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When NPD Funworld, a research group that tracks sales figures in the gaming industry, revealed the numbers for March 2006, they didn't exactly stack up to the figures from March 2005. With the console transition leaving many saving their pennies and Xbox 360s still trickling out into stores, sales were down a staggering 16 percent year-on-year.

April's showers did more than just boost their usual flora, as last month picked up some major slack with sales up 16 percent when compared to April 2005. Overall sales hit $699 million last month, with April '05 netting $602 million. Consistency was the story in April, with both the hardware ($223 million) and software ($395 million) sectors posting equal 16 percent jumps in sales, and accessories ($69 million) slightly higher at 19 percent over April 2005.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier spoke about April's success with GameSpot News. "The multimonth malaise that has faced the industry due to the console transition and the lack of blockbuster titles appears to have eased off," she said. "Year to date, the industry is down just one percent. It appears that the greater availability of inventory of 360s at retail had a significant impact on the industry, since the console hardware category contributed the most to total industry growth."

Agreeing with Frazier is industry analyst firm Friedman Billings Ramsey, which cites sales of Microsoft's next-gen console having risen 54 percent from the previous month, selling 295,000 units in April in North America (by comparison, the PlayStation 2 sold 207,000 units, the Xbox sold 39,000, and the GameCube 38,000). In addition to the loot raked in from consumers buying the console itself, the additional sale of peripherals and a 4.5 tie ratio with software, most of which sold at a $60 price point, helped boost April's numbers.

Even with many gamers jumping onto the Xbox 360 bandwagon, the biggest selling title for the second consecutive month by far was Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts II for the PlayStation 2. After selling more than 600,000 copies in three days in late March, the game sold an additional 535,000 units in April, topping the one-million-sold mark in less than a month on shelves.

Other top sellers in April benefited from multiplatform releases. Sliding into second was Take-Two Interactive's MLB 2K6, which was released on the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Portable. Lara Croft returned to gaming in the third slot with Tomb Raider: Legend for the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC. Reinforced by its release on new platforms, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter from Ubisoft held down the fourth slot (though most of the sales were from the Xbox 360 version), and Take-Two's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion took fifth.

As for individual publishers, last month was feast or famine compared to April '05. Electronic Arts, with three titles in last month's top 10--Fight Night Round 3, The Godfather, and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat--saw its sales jump 44.5 percent from April '05. On the other side of the spectrum was Activision, which fell 44.2 percent, without a big-name title like 2005's Doom 3 to carry it. It was also up and down for Take-Two and THQ, with sales that climbed 36.5 percent and dropped 29 percent, respectively.

Though current-gen unit software sales were up slightly at 3 percent, according to research firm Wedbush Morgan Securities, some of that increase was offset by a decrease in average price. Even though current-gen systems had a strong showing last month, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter doesn't see the trend continuing.

"We consider the 3 percent unit sales increase for current-generation software an anomaly and continue to believe that a slowdown in software sales will persist and weaken through the summer months," he explained. "Going forward, we expect the decline in current-generation software sales to be larger than the lift from next-generation sales, at least until the Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii are launched."

Discussion

94 comments
i_love_my_ds
i_love_my_ds

It's a good thing sony already has an installed base with the PS2, otherwise the PS3 would flop right away

Snipernator
Snipernator

ps2 sold not quite 10 times more systems than xbox, that must be a downer for microsoft

durial117
durial117

Most of us are just waiting for Halo 3, the sales will skyrocket when that game is released! Halo pwns!

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

One point--the xbox360 outsold all other consoles COMBINED. And that even includes the xbox1 sales.

sabru8
sabru8

good news, I guess

LOLO_BOND
LOLO_BOND

i still see that ms could make it 5 millions before ps3 come out

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

i do not like market place at all , they tell you new pgr 3 cars are there (cadallac series dl at ms site then i go there only ridge racer6 had new cars to download , and i believe 360 may be selling now but wait untl ps3 and wii come around , youll see 360s no6tt selling so hoit lol

AsaSpades
AsaSpades

This is good for the gaming industry and I don't know why they think the trend will continue because I know this summer threw fall my wallet is going to loose some weight because of the new 360 games coming out and then the Wii or PS3 decision that I have make.

zhuojloh
zhuojloh

sorry typo. I'm talking about 500,000.. accidentally add a million in there.

flex49
flex49

The market will remain quiet until the PS3 hits. The 360 and Wii are not important enough to make a large impact. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So this is what the expert industry analyst has to say...??? Are we all grateful...??? When a system has already sold 3.5 million consoles before PS3 and Wii is on the market, XBox360 already has a large impact....which is why Sony bit Nintendo's controller and Nintendo hasn't disclosed their price yet. Everyone's trying to get an edge on the other.

enoslives7
enoslives7

The market will remain quiet until the PS3 hits. The 360 and Wii are not important enough to make a large impact.

GameonDerek
GameonDerek

God, there are so many fanboys on here, its enough to make you vomit. Just be happy with your systems, buy games for them, and get over yourselves

bigbadjp
bigbadjp

Just wait until the PS3 comes out it's going to funk everyone up... For sho

flex49
flex49

Sorry, peeps...PS2 doesn't have an installed base of 100 million...just 100 million sold. Most people I know have had to buy at least 2 PS2 since 2001 because they break down so much. (as much as XBox 360). Once the price went down, they had a chance to replace their PS2 AGAIN! If there were so many "working" PS2 machines around, why wouldn't Kingdom Hearts 2 sell 10 million? There really shouldn't be a console war....everyone can have their own preference. The media feeds off of the fanboys rantings and manufactures this "so called" war....Most people I know have 2 different game console systems...so where's the war? Especially people who just hate Sony or just hate Microsoft....how is one better than the other? They are both conglomerates with more greed than sense. Have you ever heard of there being a super hero movies war or a reality shows war? I'm so tired of hearing this nonsense.

JTyetti
JTyetti

500,000 million units of the 360, WTH, what are you talking about lol.

zhuojloh
zhuojloh

You got to be kidding me, Walmart itself actually sold 500,000 million units of 360. That's like 1/4 of the total market. Not that I dont believe, but if you can provide me the data, then i will be very impressed with walmart.

faridmon
faridmon

why do all of u just talkin' ps3 vs xbo360, the one who will win is the wii

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

when the Nintendo Wii and the PS3 come out then we"ll see , right now is too early to tell.

sasuke55
sasuke55

Its obvious that Kingdom Hearts would sell people couldn't wait for that game. Plus now that you have more 360's to go around and games like Oblivion, Ghost Recon, Of course Sales will go up. Just wait and see what happens when NCAA 07,Madden, and 99 Nights pop off on the 360 Sales will sky rocket in the states. And Plus you got Saints Row In late September Gears Of War in OCT OR NOV Plus PSWii, and Nintendo Wii I only see it getting better.

JTyetti
JTyetti

For one NPD doesn't include the biggest retail outlet in the country, that being of course Wal-Mart. When you don't even include Wal-Mart you have some serious issues on any kind of estimate. Not to mention the fact that I do not believe they count costco and sam's either. With that said I'll point this article as indication MS is very much on their way to the June goal and will more than likely hit their year end goal. Moreover MS in their Q1 report raised their outlook for June for the baseline, from 4.5-5 million sold by the end of June to 5-5.5 million. I don't suspect they would raise their outlook for the share holders if they thought they would not hit close to the mark, rather than lower the outlook. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=16706

Doolum
Doolum

Unbelievable that Sony is still having so many PS2s sold..when the release of the PS3 is so close now.

theKSMM
theKSMM

I was in a store recently and saw a woman buying two new slimline PS2s. She had a boy with her, age 13 or so, and when I asked her if the PS2s were gifts, she said "No, my sons always fight over the PlayStation, so I'm getting them a new one. And I can't just give one of them a new one, so they each have to get a new one." I also know a few guys, hardcore gamers all, who bought new PS2s to have a second one in their bedrooms/cars. This is just my anecdotal experience, but I don't know of anybody who bought a PS2 that never had one before. I suspect that Microsoft will be able to ride pent-up demand for the XBOX 360 to sell out their inventories for at least a few months more. As we get closer to the end of the year, I expect PS2 sales to fall off as the hardcore set go into a holding pattern while waiting to buy a PS3. What's most surprising to me though is that the original XBOX is still selling with the XBOX 360 on shelves and Microsoft having all but pulled support for the older device. I guess that as long as there are good games to play (e.g. Kingdom Hearts II) people will continue to buy these consoles and games at bargain prices.

inoperativeRS
inoperativeRS

Don't be surprised by the 360's numbers. It was only recently launched and most smart people waited till e3 before they decided, and as we all know most of them will probably get a 360 now when they've seen the real ps3...

TryMe01
TryMe01

people, the ps2 keeps selling coz they keep breaking down!!! the price drop gives more reason to replace the broken unit

Dank101
Dank101

the ps2 is $130, compared to the $400 360. Go figure that more people would pick up a system 1/3 the price. And these late adopters only buy systems because of the price. And even then, the 360 hasn't had any major game come out to really FORCE people to buy it. When gears of wars, mass effect, too human, halo 3, forza 2, fable 2, or possibly crackdown come out, its safe to say the 360 will see a jump in sales.

KiLLer_ba
KiLLer_ba

That's good news, Im a bit surprised that Tomb raider did so well.

zhuojloh
zhuojloh

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=9326 NPD data also revealed that Xbox 360 hardware sales in the U.S. to date were 1.5 million units. JTyetti, i know where you get your fact, it's straight out from microsoft mouth which can be overly boasted. The last time i checked, the total combined sales of the XBOX 360 in outside US still less than total US sales. so tell me how to you get 3.5-4 million.

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

Oblivion rulez. Hope it gets number one.

JTyetti
JTyetti

zhuojloh You have no idea what you are talking about for one. Estimates now have MS at around 3.5-4million sold worldwide. Moreover, they would merely need to sell 1-1.5million units from now until the end of June. Easily done as long as they can keep up with supply/demand and yes they are still very much a hot item. Digging deeper into the month over month sales we see MS has had a ~50% sales increase. If they are truly out of the woods so to speak on pumping these things out, it is going to be a very good year for the 360 and even moreso will easily hit 10 million by the end of the year. I'll predict now, by Dec 31st 2006 MS will have sold somewhere between 10-12 million units, granted they have no more supply side issues.

megaunit
megaunit

Lets just say summer jobs will be hard to find.

JTyetti
JTyetti

I seriously doubt that this go around. Not with problems they have so far, heck just out today big headlines on developers still not having final dev kits. Moreover, there has also been talk of bad chip yields for the PS3. Only time will tell.

megaunit
megaunit

I still say PS3 can catch up to 360 pretty fast. P.S im typing on my psp.

Optimusv2
Optimusv2

megaunit remember you said that :) I hope you're still around come mid 2008 when the 360 still has a 4 to 5 million unit lead on the ps3 possibly more. You think there aren't many out there that wont be able to buy the ps3 at such an expensive price? Or people that will refuse to buy it for such a price? Fact is the ps3 will sell out well into 2007, but mark my words sony is GUESSING and HOPING they'll be able to make and ship 6 million ps3 units by march 2007 its impossible for them to know for sure at this stage I understand how this stuff works. Them guaranteeing 6 million by march 2007 is their best case scenario, but it wont work out like that. At E3 the ps3s being used were second gen dev kits.... that should tell ya something. Currently the cell yields are HORRIBLE (yes horrible) they will have shortages and manufacturing issues they will not meet their 6 million by march 2007 goal. They'll sell out of original supply, but afterwards when all the early adopters have purchased a ps3 price will be a factor that forces millions to choose a 360 or a wii. Don't forget the 360's price drop which will no doubt take place in early 2007. Halo can't affect the ps3's launch, but can it affect their building stages when they are trying to get supply to meet demand??? You damn right it can.

megaunit
megaunit

No not really just keep thinking that way.

Optimusv2
Optimusv2

Bodywave actually knows what he's talking about people don't know how big a blow GTA4 on the 360 and ps3 simultaneously will have on the ps3's chances of winning next gen. Halo 3 is also a certifiable sales animal. The ps3 during launch WILL sell out, but that isn't what makes a console a success its how well it does in the years after the "its new" feeling have worn off. 360 is cheaper and just as powerful in the graphics department as the ps3 that = problems for sony.

megaunit
megaunit

your pretty dumb if you think xbox360 will have a bigger install base all nextgen.

Optimusv2
Optimusv2

The 360 will have sold 10-12 by the end of this year..... Lets say a SINGLE 360 doesn't sell after 2006 and sony doesn't have any manufacturing issues and they actually hit that 6 million by march 2007 number guess what? It would take till september 2007 for the ps3 to tie the 360.... The 360 is GUARANTEED to have a lead on the ps3 straight into 2008. By march 2008 we should be able to judge who will win the console wars. Since we ALL KNOW the 360 wont stop selling after 2006 especially since halo 3 comes in 2007 and many other great titles such as lost planet, blue dragon, GTA4 (don't forget the 360 is the cheaper alternative for some next gen gta action which will play a major role for people who just want great games which is the majority of gamers not the elite group of fanboys) The majority of ps2 owners bought ps2s because it was the console that had the larger number of must have games the xbox had a smaller list of must haves like halo, halo 2, ninja gaiden, kotor etc. Sony fanboys are actually a small piece of the ps2's install base.. the ps2 install base is made up MOSTLY of people that ALSO own an xbox and just straight up gamers who picked the ps2 over the xbox because it had the games (like myself I don't own the original xbox, but I do own a ps2) You guys are wondering who the hell buys a ps2 this late??? Its the gamers divoid of fanboyism they buy it because they enjoy games. These are the people that increase the ps2s install base to the 100 million way after the more hardcore early adopters pick up the consoles. With price being on the 360's side Microsoft will be attracting these non fanboy type gamers and extremely late adopters like crazy. Simply put if the 360 has a lead of 5 million or more come march 2008 sony isn't winning the console war. The 360 as of right now is guaranteed to have a market share of about 60 million this time around that don't think many of those aren't potential ps3 sales. Don't forget the wii which is also cheaper.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

So the xbox360 costs 3x as much as a PS2 and still outsold it. And I don't even think MS had their supply problem fixed for the whole month. xbox360 is going to have a larger installed base than PS3 in 2006, 2007, and possibly even 2008 if not for the whole generation this time out. GTA anad Halo are big deals. GTA will help xbox a lot and take a lot away from PS3.

TheMax1087
TheMax1087

Since some of you didnt realize this(or possibly just didnt know), the ps2 out sold the 360 in november-march, so this is the first month tht its outsold it

GoddBless
GoddBless

korn18m Playstation 2 is still selling over 200,000 units each month!?!? Jesus, when will the madness end..... PS3 doesn't need backwards compatibility at this rate... Soon even the White House and the elderly homes will have PS2's it seems. Who is still buying these? You would thing everyone that wanted one would have it by now... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I Know people that just bought new PS2's because the old ones died and they have a bunch of games they wanna finish up. Plus add in the price drop and it cheaper to buy a new one than to fix it. A few of them told me they won't be getting a PS3 after having so many problems with the PS2. They're content with last gens offerings anyway.

NightRain
NightRain

Well I think that's good.. at least it's not going down..

JTyetti
JTyetti

Well, and think about this, PS2 sales actually dropped month over month from March to April ~34%. This in light of the fact that there was a price drop during this time. Moreover during this period the 360 saw a ~50% increase over this time period. If MS keeps up with supply/demand they will certainly hit their year end goals.

kryptin
kryptin

a lot of you seem to be forgetting te PS2 dropped in price in April to $129. This supurred a lot of people to buy one so the numbers don't really reflect a typical month for the PS2.

forbidcoma
forbidcoma

the 360 will be crown the new kings and sony will go the the grave