NPD: November game sales down 18 percent

Holiday season even worse than expected; 326,000 360s sold in first four days on market.

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Last week, NPD released its November 2005 sales numbers for the game industry. Much to publishers' and stockholders' relief, the industry research group reported a 3 percent year-on-year drop, far below analysts' estimates. Unfortunately, the elation was short-lived, as NPD retracted the numbers just hours later due to "overstated information" from a smaller-than-normal survey sample.

Today, it became clear exactly how overstated the NPD report was. The company rereleased figures that showed a staggering 18 percent year-on-year drop in November game sales, despite an average game-price increase of 2 percent. The falloff was steeper than what the majority of analysts had feared, with the most dire estimates maxing out at around 16 percent.

During the four weeks from October 30 to November 26, only $696 million worth of game software was sold, way down from $849 million during the same period in 2004. The lack of blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Half-Life 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3 were also cited as a factor by analysts. "[The fall was] due to a tough comp[arison] against Halo 2 last year and a slowdown in sales ahead of the Xbox 360 launch," said UBS analyst Michael P. Wallace.

Speaking of the Xbox 360, the new NPD numbers showed that Microsoft sold only 326,000 units of the next-gen console during its first five days on the market. By contrast, the original Xbox sold more than 550,000 units in its first week of release in 2001. Sony's PSP, which launched in the US and Canada on March 24 of this year, sold around 602,000 units during its first seven days in stores. A consensus of analysts blamed the low figure on "limited quantities of Xbox 360 hardware," as Thomas Weisel Partners' Colin Sebastian politely put it.

As far as Xbox 360 software was concerned, Call of Duty 2 was the top title, with a whopping 77 percent attach rate. In layman's terms, that means more than three out of every four people who bought Microsoft's next-gen console picked up Activision's shooter, often because of bundling. Call of Duty 2 was given the most credit for Activision's 54 percent spike in sales, which came in spite of lackluster numbers for two of its highest-profile fall releases. FBR's Shawn Mile called Gun's 225,000-unit debut "decent," but termed True Crime New York City's paltry 73,000 in sales "disappointing."

The second- and third-best-selling Xbox 360 games were Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 2006 and Need for Speed Most Wanted. Ironically, the multiplatform Most Wanted sold 34 percent less units than its predecessor, Need for Speed Underground 2, suggesting EA's cash-cow franchise may finally be drying up. That said, sales of Madden, NBA Live 06, and Harry Potter more than made up for the drop, boosting the company's overall bottom line by 8 percent for November.

EA's modest gains compared very favorably to its rivals' steep losses. Though its year-to-date sales are up 11.9 percent, THQ saw a 32 percent slide during November, thanks to a lack of a Pixar film tie-in games like last year's Incredibles. THQ's latest wrestling game, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006, saw strong sales, though it sold 41 percent less units than its 2004 predecessor during the month due to differing ship dates. Take-Two Interactive saw the worst annual decline, some 63 percent, a figure which Milne said may still be too optimistic. However, the decrease was more to do with the fact the company released the second-highest-grossing game of all time, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, on October 27, 2004.

Another factor in the November numbers was falling sales of current-generation hardware. As might be expected with the 360 going on sale, the Xbox saw the biggest decline, some 75 percent. Far behind it was the new slim-line PlayStation 2 at 21 percent, with the GameCube falling off just 19 percent.

Discussion

79 comments
SK64killer
SK64killer

what he said do you mean.............?

ElZilcho
ElZilcho

so the industry is struggling a little bit, i think its a good thing, they're gonna have to be encouraged to make better games and in the end we all win, and besides how in the world does anyone expect the industry to keep churning out blockbusters like Halo 2 GTA San Andreas and Resident Evil 4 every year its just not gonna happen ...

ff7cloudking
ff7cloudking

I bet if Microsoft wasn't pulling a publicity stunt with only 30 Xbox 360's per store, and with the limited quantity they had, then maybe the sales wouldn't have gone down so much.

D4rThx_xR3Lik
D4rThx_xR3Lik

And yet again Microsoft fails in Japan... To think the fools at Microsoft thought they would be able to sell 360's in Japan. Even if 360's were available here in North America, the titles for other consoles are depressing. It still wouldn't help the revenue.

Piernik
Piernik

I`m glad that I bought a PSP instead of this crappy X360.

miiiguel
miiiguel

Couldn't care less about this guys bashing the fabulous X360, I'm having so much fun, I think I might even be be sued for it!

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

dang....only 326,000? m$ should have done something to get more shipped.....

Beebo79
Beebo79

I've noticed that "back in the day", when video games were nowhere near as popular, we used to only get a handful of titles released each year. And they were all very good, high quality games. Now video games are huge and we get boatloads of titles each year... and yet still only a handful are actually any good. So when I hear that video games are "stagnating" or that nothing new or innovative is getting made anymore, or that the video game industry is doomed, I just shrug my shoulders. Because really nothing has changed. All that garbage surrounding the handful of quality titles is just that, garbage, and if it all dissapears tomorrow we will be none the worse for it. The huge corporate game industries like EA will fall, and we'll just be back to a few dedicated groups of programmers making the games they love to play.

sinceps1
sinceps1

the wait for the next shipment is horrible isnt it.

sinceps1
sinceps1

ok, I do agree microsoft shoulda had more units in the US than in Japan, but... enough fanboyism. The 360 is a good system wether you like it or not; it will have some of the best shooters ever. Yea, yea, yada yada, sony ownz the box with rpgs but they suxxorz when it comes to shootorzz.

Geek12
Geek12

Man microsoft, baaaaddd choice. very bad! And theres no next time for the 360. Shoulda stocked up.

GunslingerMan
GunslingerMan

Yep sony shouldn't worry anymore they will catch up to the 360 very quickly .

meischris39
meischris39

hopefully this should be a lesson for developers to spend more time on their games making them quality products

lageasy311
lageasy311

As is always the case, not having enough is a problem. But MS got greedy and we gotta admit that. If mere losers like us could see that is was going to fail in Japan, what makes the top execs not know?? They should have saved most of them for America. Xbox never had any GREAT games, and halo was their saving grace, but unfortunately it's not even that great either. I feel like im shooting looney toons, I also felt like I was playing a rip off of starship troopers. 60$ for a game is kinda steep and the reviews for the games are'nt exactly enticing me to want an Xbox either. BillyLEe had a great point you should scroll up and read his, it's all about hype which is what Xbox just does not have. Im sorry fanboys of xbox but you only own 15 percent of the entire world's market. Your games just sucked and were not that innovative, quit making something out of nothing and just admit it. It's sad that millions of people knew that ps2 had choppy frame rates and not that great of graphics but still chose it over Xbox.....and why?? I love hearing their excuses....absolutely love 'em. Don't get me wrong if just as good of games were to come out on xbox people would flock, it's all about exclusivity. Nobody really has it anymore....so i guess it really won't make a differ but of the most select titles. I'm not say XBOX sucked but their games sure did!

SheikhMuhammad
SheikhMuhammad

the best year is gonna be 2006... coz we all b playin MGS4, Warhawk,Killzone,I-8,Gran Turismo, Splinter cell, Halo, Black !!!!!! DMC RE5 etc etc etc

lookbehindyou
lookbehindyou

If Microsoft would have shipped more 360's it would have EASILY been number 1 in sales with over 1,000,000+

NeoJedi
NeoJedi

Too bad for game sales... but if there were more good games out there, people would buy them, like last year. And as for the 360, well I think it didn't sell because there weren't enough of them to go around, so all of MS's fault on that one.

blackmage0_15
blackmage0_15

Games are a big part of the falling of prices. Most games at release cost 64, to 72 dollars. Everyone knows in 2 months, the price will go down to the 40 dollar mark. Perhaps if companies spent more time finding ways to making games cheaper instead of better, we wouldn't be in this mess.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Well, hopefully the industry is paying attention to these numbers. Plus, I really don't think $60 games are going to help the situation very much.

BillyLeeBlack51
BillyLeeBlack51

Everyone knows the 360 shortage was intentional to create a buzz. They did it to make it seem like there was far more demand for the 360 than there really was. This is obvious from their "sellout" at the Japanese launch. What, did they have like 5 consoles available at that launch party to make sure they sold out? Have you seen all those pictures of 360's no one wants in Japan? Of course they could have sold more in North America and Europe, and MS is pretty stupid for not having done so.

joeplayer007
joeplayer007

Anyone making the "leftovers rotting in Japan" argument is very, very foolish. It doesn't matter if over half of those 360's NEVER sell, Microsoft isn't fighting a battle to win this generation over there, their fighting the long war for cultural acceptance, and more importantly have the resources to do it. The fact is simple the Japanese people are going to be a tough sell under ideal conditions, let alone being the new guy against two entrenched companies (nintendo, sony), releasing here first and there second would be in effect treating them as second class customers and further renforce their tendency to shy away. Microsoft was very smart for recognizing the PR implications of this and acting appropriately. If only nintendo would do the same for us in seeing that more resources need to go into the more mature franchises that sell better over here (metriod, zelda, star fox) instead of banking on the world-wide apeal "Mario-ified" games (see party, tennis, strikers) and those pocket monsters (pokemon). Then maybe they could regain some foothold over here....unitl then ...well no one's catching sony and hey give them credit they pay publishers good money for those exclusives (gta, final fantasy, etc) and it works

Igiss
Igiss

73.000 people decieved into buying True Crime New York City? Activision should celebrate their greatest success in history. Seriously, there are very few new and creative games this season, so most people probably tend to play with what they already have. Sequels are boring.

Gamer46
Gamer46

Like some people have all ready said... All those 360s rotting on shelves in Japan would've been put to better use being released here. Bad move by MS, and I think Peter Moore is the main person to blame for it. You can ask Sega about some of his fine work in the past... As far as the lower game sales, I'm kind of surprised. Sure it hasn't been as great a year as 2004, but Perfect Dark Zero, Call of Duty 2, Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo, Dragon Quest VIII, Soul Calibur 2, King Kong, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Fear, Quake 4 (PC version), Mario Kart DS, GTA: Liberty City Stories, etc, these are all great games. I expected higher sales, but at the same time, I didn't expect 2004 level sales. 2004 was a special year for gaming that saw many, many AAA games. Years like that don't come around too often.

8081
8081

Why wait for the Revo or the PS3 we both now they can't compare.

NERDSFOREVER
NERDSFOREVER

If they had more 360s they wouldnt have this problem

macmaster1
macmaster1

I think the reason for the drop of game sales is because of the next generation game consoles. Gamer like me are buying less games now to save up for the new console. Before i use to buy about 2 games a month, now i buy only a game every 2 months. After the new console come with a hefty new price and an increased priced tag per game.

JackLumber
JackLumber

Wow, thats 326,000 people who suck. Wait for the Revo people!!

Rej72380
Rej72380

The NDP numbers were expected, mainly because of the transition from the current console generation to the next generation IIRC, the video game industry suffered huge declines in sales in 2000 because of the launch of the PS2.

Terrance23
Terrance23

Well,well well i see not enough xbox 360 were made ha i can care less they thought they could have done what sony did 5 years ago please sony sold a milllion in the first week uhh xbox 360 a next gen a mere 300,000 wow watch when ps3 come out but xbox is good i cant hate but sony is and will always be number.Dont count on a 360 to sell a million in the first 2 weeks

mickel_darmawan
mickel_darmawan

Did you mean stay in Japan or in the Europe?? Because we didn't have enough supply in here in the US!! (^^) !! ha ha ha

abh1nav
abh1nav

I think the xbox 360 might face problems now because they are seeming to not be able to build up a product base quickly + PS3 has blu-ray and it seems blu-ray is here to stay - but 360 looks so much better - thats why the xbox is here to stay

mickel_darmawan
mickel_darmawan

I wish PS3 already came out at this time. (~,~) !! ha ha ha!!

nflsonic
nflsonic

I can only imagine what Zelda would have brought in if it was going to release originally this holiday season! Loads of new Cubes to equal more money. Anyways, I guess this slow season brought in some crazy deals recently. Example, I just picked up GTA:SA Special Editon for the PS2 last Friday for $20! I'm a slow adopter, but these deals sure lured me in to buy more stuff...

limpbizkit818
limpbizkit818

come on microsoft, you got your system on the market first, now dont blow it!

Glitchhawk
Glitchhawk

Ya I Think That Also. If Microsoft Would Have Put 1 Million Consles on the Market in the 1st week They Probly / might have, Sold all 1 million of them.

simslova234
simslova234

someone report what i jut said i want the moderators to see it

simslova234
simslova234

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

GastaS
GastaS

Damn watch that xbox360 sold for

DarkmanX3
DarkmanX3

Make more games......Theres been virtually no good releases this Christmas cause everything got pushed back to 2006...

Qua
Qua

Inflated prices, bundling, and rushed launches. All things I won't support. I'm glad they're taking it on the chin for this.

gqman78
gqman78

all this can be sloved by doing US consumers a favor.... just lower the prices and stop increasing it. The bottom line is that the games are too expensive, getting $60 games are really pricey when you don't know what to expect. $60 every 2-4 weeks is getting expensive.... so to raise sales, just lower prices. xbox and sony is flithy rich already, they should be thankful for the people that still follow their systems/product.

VGMusicFreak
VGMusicFreak

maybe now they will make new innovative titles when their "cash cows" stop selling.

cidvicious
cidvicious

I think it is ridiculous how they compare NFS: most wanted with NFS underground...these are so different. The Underground is more like Gran Turismo only for underground racing whereas Most wanted is more like the project gotham series...its not even comparable in gameplay!!! AS for the xbox 360 (owner), their numbers suck because they did not do a good job distributing and supplying the demand...THIS WAS THEIR CHANCE TO boost their numbers and success...instead they opened up the market to resellers...STUPID MOVE GUYS!!!

thekey
thekey

This only the begining what matters is games, if you have the games eventualy they will come.

thekey
thekey

OtterX Right on brother, EA sucks.

daqua_99
daqua_99

Really, there was no real 'killer game' this month - I mean, Civ IV and AoE III were all last month and nothing good really came through this month.

Alf
Alf

everyone is talking about the consoles that are dusting in Japan... what about the ones here in Europe? you can import some if not all from here too if you like so. anyway this launch fever was over minutes before the time they started hahaha

chickonspeed
chickonspeed

I agree. They should have shipped more units to North America, instead of world wide. They don't give a crap about the "box" in Japan and it annoys me that Microsoft continues to pander to people who absolutely find them strongly lame. How about making the majority of your current fans happy first?

VGMusicFreak
VGMusicFreak

pshh this winter's lineup totally pwns last winter. I dont care for Halflife 2, GTA, or MGS. This winter we have DQVIII, Mario And Luigi Partners in time, Mario Kart DS, Magna Carta, Wild Arms Alter Code F, Phoenix Wright, Animal Crossing DS, and FFIV for GBA. Just because those ADD mainstream gamers cant love a good rpg doesnt change the fact that this winter is WAY better then last winter.