NPD: Game sales slide 10 percent in May

Weaker-than-expected Xbox 360 numbers, console transition dogpile on industry; PC game sales rise 12 percent.

by

An artist's interpretation of what happened to Xbox 360 game sales in May.

Currently, the conventional wisdom is that 2006 will see sales of current-generation games fall as games for next-generation consoles rise. So why, then, did sales of Xbox 360 games plummet from $75 million in April to $47 million in May? That's one of the questions raised by the latest report from industry-research group NPD Funworld, which was released today.

The 360's 180 was one of the main reasons US game sales for May 2006 were only $286 million, 10 percent below May 2005. NPD figures also fingered weaker-than-expected sales of titles for the PSP, which has seen its momentum slow in recent months. The report also said that sales of DS titles were weaker than expected, even though the number one game for the month was New Super Mario Bros., which generated nearly $9.5 million in sales all by itself.

Overall, what NPD terms "current-generation" software--Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance games--slid $96 million to just $188 million for the month, versus May 2005. "Next-generation" software--Xbox 360, DS, and PSP games--hauled in a combined $98 million, far below Wedbush Morgan Securties' analyst Michael Pachter's estimates.

And, according to Pachter, May may only be the beginning. "We think that this trend foreshadows continuing weak sales until the holidays, as we expect continued monthly year-over-year declines of 30-40 percent for current-generation software sales, with next-generation software sales growth failing to offset these declines," he wrote in a report issued today.

As for May's best-selling console games, according to raw data from NPD, after New Super Mario Bros. was last month's number one game, Kingdom Hearts II for the PS2. Then it was back down to DS town with Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day. The newly $19.95 God of War was behind it at number four, followed by the two top dogs on the Xbox 360: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Though Major League Baseball 2K6 was relegated to 19th (PS2) and 20th (Xbox) places, Sony's MLB '06: The Show was still swinging for the fences at number seven.

The eighth-best-selling console game of May will likely surprise many. Riding a wave of positive buzz, Red Octane's Guitar Hero bundle has been selling well, and has led to a new social phenomenon--Guitar Hero parties. In ninth place on the list was another favorite--Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which joined the $19.99 line of "Greatest Hits" games for the PS2 earlier this year. In 10th was another surprise--the original Kingdom Hearts for the PS2, which was released back in 2002.

TOP CONSOLE GAMES: MAY 2006*

1 - New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
2 - Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)
3 - Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day (DS)
4 - God of War (PS2)
5 - Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360)
6 - Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360)
7 - MLB '06: The Show (PS2)
8 - Guitar Hero (with Guitar) (PS2)
9 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
10 - Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
11 - X-Men: The Official Game (PS2)
12 - Over the Hedge (PS2)
13 - Fight Night Round 3 (Xbox 360)
14 - FIFA World Cup 2006 (PS2)
15 - The Godfather: The Game (PS2)
16 - Gran Turismo 4 (PS2)
17 - Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (Xbox 360)
18 - Midnight Club 3: Dub Ed Remix (PS2)
19 - Major League Baseball 2K6 (PS2)
20 - Major League Baseball 2K6 (Xbox 360)

*Does not combine collector's and regular editions of games.

One of the few bright spots in the NPD report came courtesy of the PC. Sales for the mother of all platforms bucked the downward trend, and were actually up 12 percent over May 2005. Some $63 million worth of boxed retail PC games were sold, meaning the figure must've been much higher, since it doesn't include online sales of games via services such as Valve's Steam digital distribution network.

Down PC way, NPD pegged NCsoft's Guild Wars expansion, Guild Wars Factions, as the top tile of the month of May. It was followed by a pair of RPGs: the still-strong massively multiplayer World of Warcraft, and the social-life-cripplingly massive The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The Sims 2 took fourth, followed by Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends and The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff expansion pack. Then it was Electronic Arts' Sims 2 Open for Business expansion pack and Microsoft's Age of Empires III. The last spot in the top 10 was another EA game of a very different sort--Battlefield 2.

TOP PC GAMES: MAY 2006*

1 - Guild Wars Factions
2 - World of Warcraft
3 - Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
4 - The Sims 2
5 - Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends
6 - The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff Expansion Pack
7 - Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
8 - The Sims 2 Open for Business
9 - Age of Empires III
10 - Battlefield 2
11 - Civilization IV
12 - Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth II
13 - Star Wars: Empire at War
14 - Heroes of Might & Magic V
15 - Call of Duty 2
16 - Guild Wars
17 - Warcraft III Battle Chest
18 - Guild Wars Factions: Collector's Edition
19 - The Sims 2 Nightlife Expansion Pack
20 - The Sims Complete Collection

*Does not combine collector's and regular editions of games.

Discussion

204 comments
RLJSlick
RLJSlick

No way, we are not hating on M$, but facts are facts, and for the price of a Xbox 360 game I can go out and buy 2 Xbox games. It's just simply economics.

cuepac
cuepac

I agree I really hope this drives the price of the games down a bit. HEY MICROSOFT, SONY, AND NINTENDO.... IF YOU ARE READING THIS, WE ARE NOT STUPID. WE ALL KNOW IT DOES NOT COST $60.00 PER GAME TO DEVELOP A GAME AND SELL IT TO YOUR CONSUMERS. WHY DON’T YOU PONDER THIS...? LOWERING YOUR GAME PRICES MAY THWART PIRACY, AND BRING YOUR SELLS UP. If any game maker would price all new games at $19.99, I would dump all my systems to get one with affordable titles. Grant it should have to have decent titles (UNLIKE MY 360).

Merl57
Merl57

yeah online RPGS just get addictive

GeeverTidus
GeeverTidus

WoW KHII and KHI still there...its just no surprise!!! PS2 is still kicking butt against the next-gen?!! x-box360*** if Microsoft cant even win in their homeland against the old PS2 what more if PS3 is released...and for the fact that majority / almost all of the asians rejected xbox360 they really cant win the hearts of asian gamers...that means less asian game developers support 4 M$ = poor library of games + crappy games..... cant wait to see xbox360's finality here... Playstation and Nintendo will stay in the next gen console war... Go PS3!!!

nramsey34
nramsey34

ha..maybe ebgames and gamestop will actually start stocking PC games again...shows them right, i hope they go under for abandoning the PC like they did.

moospot
moospot

maybe this will drive down the cost of games a bit

jimbo102671
jimbo102671

If I remember correctly, GS had a user poll earlier this year how they rate the industry the coming couple of years. And, if I remember correctly, the vast majority of its respondants believed 2006 will stink but pave way for an excellent 2007. BTW, the fact that the 360 has a game in the top 5 (and 5 of the T20 slots) despite having far fewer units in circulation than the PS2 shows it's not about to throw in the towel just yet. But occupying 13 of the T20 slots shows the PS2's staying power. Plus, Sony pledged to continue PS2 support after the PS3 launch so that's of help as well. Note that the #1 and 3 positions the DS occupies represent Nintendo's entire apperance in the T20. "Ouch" pretty much sums that up. Here's hoping the Wii will be a contender. Why can't fanboys be lucky that they are so enthused with their system of choice instead of bashing other fanboys? It's because of something called "competition" that each system has its share of killer-app games. Without this competition, who knows what kind of cr*p games we'd be playing?

saintvalentine
saintvalentine

IDK, But Xbox 360, PS3 and WII, the 3 will be cool,the 3 will be a fine purchase, as always,i think is stupid how people fights but well whatever, i only share one thing with some people here, gamespot are sonyboys, I don't know why people argue so much about wicht one is better, i just think the 3 are cool, and i think when i can, i will get the 3 of them and acquire their best buys, not the stupid games they can release...and BTW, Every Console does that, RELEASE SOME STUPID GAMES...but still, Some people buys them.

runstalker
runstalker

Seriously though, my PC has been a little goldmine lately for games. It's no wonder sales are nice and strong.

A7Xfan
A7Xfan

I don't get how all these companies can be taking such hits (thats all were hearing about yet they stay in business. We barely ever hear of gains and they're dismal when we do.

Disgaeamad
Disgaeamad

This was pretty much expected from the X box 360. They should stick with PC games and leave the consoles to Sony and Nintendo. Oblivion and Kingdom Hearts 2 are still doing very good though.

safdar332078
safdar332078

Hopefully when the Gaming Consles prices goes down during summer, the downward sales trend might just buck.

rynmls
rynmls

well the releases of games for the month of may were not so damn good... well maybe just 1 hitman...

magnolio369
magnolio369

it's good to see the DS and ps2 up there! -wheres GC? *cough* xbox 360 is crap *cough* sorry i have a cold ! *cough* xbox 360 *cough* *cough* CRAP!! *cough*

mr_squibble
mr_squibble

Well, I finally got my XBOX 360 the end of May, and I picked up two nice-condition used games (one was $30 and one was $20 (on Ebay)) to go with it. I will not pay $60 for one game, no matter how good it is supposed to be. I too think the PS2 should own these charts. It has some of the best software ever made available in the $20 - $30 price range. But there are many different kinds of gamers out there, with more than enough games to go around.

mcsteve61
mcsteve61

Wow, who would have guessed the 360 would have weaker sales? I mean, they have sooooo many great games. The same goes for the PSP. And Nintendo can only ride one horse for so long. Gimme a break, the game industry has been swallowed by giant corporations that spit out crap. Formula A: -bloated game with extreme focus on graphics. -insert buckets of blood. -have computer geeks write lame story. -power with retarded controls. Slumping sales is a shocker. Heres an idea: get talented designers and developers who play games----

paullywog
paullywog

If they make good games, they don't have to worry about this kind of stuff. I just don't want to buy a lot of what's out on ANY console at this point. Gimme Halo 3, GOW etc. Give everyone else MGS4, FF, etc. and we'll see how sales are then.

shizwill03
shizwill03

Heh. The Sims 2 is still pwning PCs. Even the Sims. Heh. HEHHEH!!!

DanteKiller
DanteKiller

see? SEE? I knew that KHII would become a financial success. It's also great to see the first KH on there, too! Congrats to Guitar Hero, too! All we need now is Gears of War and FFXII!

SNKrock
SNKrock

Eh, I bought Burnout 360, so I tried.

bob_dartagnan
bob_dartagnan

Ah, people are trying to save up for that PS3. Eating nothing but spaghetti, taking second jobs, selling organs. Its no surprise really that they arent spending $50 on games to...although I would deff. put games over eating any day. What? I dont have a problem. I can stop any time I want!

yyr
yyr

The REAL reason more 360 games haven't been selling: Xbox Live Arcade. =) Seems like a million people bought Uno for 5 bucks. With an online Street Fighter II' right around the corner, probably also with a 5-dollar price, June is also going to be a slow month... heh.

ReyWing
ReyWing

gotta save up money for the holidays, of course

DeadlyDestr0yer
DeadlyDestr0yer

"Looks like the 360 is falling apart as expected. I love how the PS2 that was released ovwe 6 years ago is still kicking microsoft's butt. " enoslives7--you must be about 10 years old with comments like that. You clearly havn't got a clue about what your going on about.

Ghost_Warrior
Ghost_Warrior

I own a 360 and Im not suprised by these numbers. I only own one game Oblivion but I've rented others. One reason why the numbers are down is because $60 is a lot of money to be putting into a game. Well it is for me at least. My funds are somewhat limited so Im only going to buy a game if its one I really want (like Oblivion.) Right now there are no games that I really want to buy at the moment. Im fine just renting games for up to a month and then if I really like the game I'll get it. Your pretty much right if you said summer sales won't be good either, sales won't go up until the fall when other titles come out. Dead Rising, Prey and Ninety-Nine Nights will help and then when Mass Effect comes around christmas or early 07 that will spark sales. For those who said people are waiting for the ps3 and Wii, sure some people are but those that want a 360 are waiting for its price to drop this fall. I dont care what anyone says 400 bucks is a lot of money to spend at once. EDIT: Savage161, you couldn't have explained it better.

vamroc
vamroc

Did you know in order to make the PS3 play PS2 and PS1 games they actualy put a PS2 "slim" unit mother board inside the PS3. This means the PS3 isn't really backward compatible since it filps an internal "switch" that turns on old hardware to play the old games. But hey you go right ahead and flush that month's rent down the toilet excuse me I mean buy a PS3. Buy 360 and surrender your will to Gates of Borg.

RevernedICE
RevernedICE

People arn't buying next gen yet because they are waiting for everything to come out first (Wii and PS3), then make decisions.

miiiguel
miiiguel

Is this US only ? or world wide ? If it's world wide, it's not my fault, I've been buying a steady 3 games/per 2 months for the 360. Anyway, it's odd for people to say that the sales figures of the 360 are poor, as there's a cheap machine arround for 6 years, wich millions of people have. And making a silly survey here at the office, I easyly see what people do in gaming terms, they buy the cheapest and the most mainstream games. They don't come to GS, they don't see reviews of games, you know..., it's something like the movie industry, don't expect the best movies to have the greatest box-office sales. I'm not beeing pretentious, it's just the way it is, I mean..., like me for instance, I like to read good books, but I don't read Shakespeare, I tend to buy "lighter" stuff. Literature critics sure nod their heads on books sales charts.

Doolum
Doolum

Where are the PSP games..i wanna see the PSP games

Terranah
Terranah

If you make good games people will buy them. Problem is, I don't see a lot of games coming out lately that really appeal to me, especially on the xbox 360.

big_bad_byron
big_bad_byron

I thought New Super Mario Bros. would have sold more copies than that. I suppose it's pretty impressive for a handheld game to be the #1 selling game for a particular month. It was released June 8 here in Australia, i got mine on the release date. Paid the full RRP of 69.95 from EBgames, gonna return it in a week, get the refund, and buy it off ebay mabye for cheaper. OR i may actually beat it(unlock everything, complete everything) in under a week, then i'll just return it and NOT buy another copy, there'd be no point. I may buy it again though, when it's released on Wii's virtual console.

coreyb42
coreyb42

"PC gaming's dying" blah blah blah

Romulus99
Romulus99

this is only because the xbox360 hasnt brought out any good titles in the last 2 monthes.

payback_56
payback_56

I think its just because gamers are waiting too see what counsole they are going with, and 2 of them are not released yet. I think games sales will drop at least slightly until gamers decided what system they want, and are actually able to get one. Then they will be able to invest in that system, and buy games, so probaly around next spring sales should be back on the rise, because by then sony and nintendo along wth microsoft should all have a surplus of thier systems available so the gamer can go in and just pick up whichever one they want, and not have to wait in long "launch lines", or get on the pre-order list in every store, then gamers will invest the money into the games again plus its hard to ask people to buy games for systems that are on the way out, it seems much more practical for them to save up money for a couple months until the other systems are released...

glitch24
glitch24

Hehehe go GW Factions! And DS!

rbarahona
rbarahona

it will be a matter of time before this trend is reversed. When the new consoles arrives and more appealing software is released for the current handhelds then we will see better results.

Go0pynose
Go0pynose

No suprise here. No suprise at all.

Dark_symphonia
Dark_symphonia

Im not bying any games because im savin up for the wii....wonder if anyone esle is doing that

Legendaryscmt
Legendaryscmt

You also have to put in more money to continually upgrade your PC so it can be as good, if not better than a system. I'd rather pay a flat price, and wait for the developers to use the system's full potential. EX: Halo and Halo 2.

1SleepyGit
1SleepyGit

PCs once again prove that they will always be great for gaming I see. Consoles may have vast sales and may cause the PC to have the occasional slump such as when a next generation of consoles come out, but they will always come back and will always be there because they are the best, and one day people will realise that and stick with their PCs as they always should. :P I'm just teasing by the way, but the PC does have the advantage of not relying on a single company to ensure that they do well and always seem to follow their own rules when it comes to sales as opposed to following console sales patterns.

enoslives7
enoslives7

Looks like the 360 is falling apart as expected. I love how the PS2 that was released ovwe 6 years ago is still kicking microsoft's butt.

Webhydra
Webhydra

yeesh! you people are ignoring one major factor here, many people were holding there breath on the next generation in may to see what happened at E3 with the other consoles, this effectively cut may in half, the software sales don't look so bad when you consider the Top selling 360 game of may was a budget game of Table tennis for $40 rather than $60, this means that sales numbers aren't actually down as much as it looks. I expect June will see a small bounce back in hardware sales and the surprisingly strong Hitman title and Moto GP2006 should help lick some wounds. but expect a somwhat Anemic month beyond that. July may surprise some people since even in it's best month the 360 never released more than 2 major games [Oblivion and GRAW, in March] while early July will see 3 with Prey, NCAA, and quite possibly a surprisingly strong Chrome Hounds

nas-tmayne2k6
nas-tmayne2k6

im not suprised, the 360 has next to zero games that are coming out even fewer that are any good, even convincing me more that it was a waste of money, xbox has nothing coming out so ill just have to have fun doing what you should be doing in the summer

homiebo
homiebo

well, you cant really tell if sales go up or down. they just move around with everyones opion

smbius
smbius

WOW. Brain Age is up there. There are alot more DS owners than I thought. Nintendo made a good risk with the DS.

GoddBless
GoddBless

"BigWillySeth I can't stand looking at sales analyst crap. And yet every time I start reading the article. Why don't people ever look at the real reasons for why the sales slump; the lack of good games... Is it so hard to figure out why the months that release Halo 2 and othr huge games have such great revenue and then next month it all sucks in comparison? Sometimes I wonder if they just have a bunch or number crunching nerds in a basement working these things out w/o knowing what they're analyzing." I wonder the same thing sometimes. Still who would think people would still be buying San Andreas? Plus you can't compare a surprisingly good month to a month expected to be slow. It's so bad they put handheld games under consoles.

vgfanr
vgfanr

Current-Gen should have more game sales.... THE GAMES ARE $5 BUCKS!