NPD: Resident Evil 5 infects 1.5 million, March game sales sink 17%

Capcom's PS3/360 zombie apocalypse a big hit despite US game-industry nosedive; Halo Wars and Pokemon score, GTA: Chinatown Wars doesn't break top 10.

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After months of explosive growth, the US game industry has officially hit a stumbling block. Today, the NPD Group reported that in March, domestic retail game sales decreased year-over-year for the first time since last September's 7 percent dip. However, the drop was more dramatic last month, which saw sales of non-PC game software, hardware, and accessories contract 17 percent from $1.72 billion in March 2008 to $1.43 billion in March 2009.

Spokesmen said the Umbrella Corporation was pleased with Resident Evil 5's sales.

But though skyrocketing unemployment numbers and tightening wallets certainly played a part, NPD analyst Anita Frazier pointed out several other factors behind the drop. "First, Easter fell in March last year whereas it fell in April this year, and last March included the release of Super Smash Bros.: Brawl, which went on to become the fourth-best-selling game in 2008," she pointed out. Indeed, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research director of research Jesse Divnich called March 2008 a "perfect storm" for game sales, with the hits Rainbow Six Vegas 2 and Army of Two wooing more hardcore gamers uninterested in Smash Bros. Brawl.

Indeed, software sales mirrored the overall US game-industry shrinkage, falling 17 percent from $952.14 million (2008) to $792.83 million (2009). One reason for the shortfall was an event that Divnich also forecast --Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars selling only in the 200,000-unit range. Although one of the best-reviewed games on the Nintendo DS, the Rockstar Games offering didn't even crack the top 10, falling behind critically drubbed 10th-place finisher Major League Baseball 2K9, which sold only 205,000 units on the Xbox 360. [UPDATE] In fact, Chinatown Wars sold less that 90,000 units.

The month's software top wash was dominated by a game as violent as any Grand Theft Auto title, Resident Evil 5. The Xbox 360 version of Capcom's controversial horror-survival game took first place with 938,000 units sold, followed by the PlayStation 3 version's 585,000 units (4th) for a total of 1.52 million units--a series-best debut.

Coming in second place was the latest entrant in the Pokemon phenomenon, Pokemon Platinum. In third was the Xbox 360 exclusive Halo Wars, which overcame lukewarm reviews to sell an impressive 639,000 units. In fifth place was last month's top dog, Wii Fit, with 541,000 units, followed by two critically lauded PS3 games: MLB 09: The Show and Killzone 2, which sold 305,000 and 296,000 copies, respectively. Eighth place belonged to the Wii Remote-bundled Wii Play and ninth was all about Mario Kart Wii, which itself comes with the Wii Steering Wheel peripheral.

By Frazier's own account, hardware sales were March's weakest spot, sliding 18 percent from $552.04 million (2008) to $455.55 million (2009). "While it's not unusual for March hardware sales to be lower than February, I thought we'd see higher unit sales on most platforms," she said. "The Xbox 360 was the only platform to achieve a year-over-year unit sales increase."

Microsoft's console came in third for the month with 330,000 units, followed by Sony's three platforms: the PS3 (218,000 units), the PSP (168,000 units), and the now-$99.99 PlayStation 2, which only sold 112,000 units during the March reporting period, which lasted until April 4. "The PS2 price decrease occurred on April 1, so this month included only 4 days of sales as the new retail price," explained Frazier. "We would expect to see an increase in PS2 hardware sell-through in the April data."

Though much changed in March 2009 from the year prior, two things stayed the same. The Wii and DS were the top-selling hardware platforms once again, selling 601,000 units and 563,000 units, respectively. "It's important to keep in mind that the Super Smash Bros. Brawl effect from last year impacted hardware sales as well, so while the year-over-year comparisons are down for the Wii, the sales are still impressive," commented Frazier.

Although unnerving on their own, NPD's March numbers also signaled a more alarming trend. When taken into account, the month's numbers caused 2009's first-quarter game sales to go from solid growth to a near flat line. For the January-March period, the US game industry generated $4.25 billion, barely up from the $4.24 billion that it generated during the same period in 2008.

US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - MARCH 2009
Software: $792.83M (-17%)
Hardware: $455.55M (-18%)
Accessories: $185.67M (-15%)
Total Games: $1.43B (-17%)

TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - MARCH 2009
Wii: 601,000
Nintendo DS: 563,000
Xbox 360: 330,000
PlayStation 3: 218,000
PlayStation Portable: 168,000
PlayStation 2: 112,000

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE SKUs - MARCH 2009
Title / Publisher / Units**
1) Resident Evil 5 (360) / Capcom / 938,000
2) Pokemon Platinum (DS) / Nintendo / 805,000
3) Halo Wars (360) / Microsoft / 639,000
4) Resident Evil 5 (PS3) / Capcom / 585,000
5) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (Wii) / Nintendo / 541,000
6) MLB '09: The Show (PS3) / Sony / 305,000
7) Killzone 2 (PS3) / Sony / 296,000
8) Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) / Nintendo / 281,000
9) Mario Kart Wii with Wheel (Wii) / Nintendo / 278,000
10) Major League Baseball 2K9 (360) / Take-Two / 205,000

** = Figures include Collector's Editions and non-hardware bundles.

Discussion

261 comments
Adel4
Adel4

im starting to see that wii is getting less popular but according to this people are still buying it..... and dsi i only know one person who bought that.

Yannakos
Yannakos

Pokemon still exists? Hah, its pretty interesting though if you put PS2+3 sales together on the equipment it equals the xbox.

xElite_GameRx
xElite_GameRx

and PS3 owners wonder why developers also port their so called exclusives on the 360, its because of disappointing sales #'s in games like KZ2 and Little Big Planet, I'm assuming 20 million PS3 owners and not even 1/4 bought KZ2. It's their, its exclusive, and its a pretty great game, so whats the problem?

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

They say the PC games market is 1/12th the console, so the best selling PC game must have done around 85,000 units. I believe that was Empire Total War.

Blink3r
Blink3r

"fifth place was last month's top dog, Wii Fit, with 541,000 units" just OMG... nintendo better thank all the fatasses out there for that...

zinoalex
zinoalex

GTA:Chinatown Wars will pick up sales in the summer months.It will take the gaming public a while to realize that this is now GTA:GBA.Consider that all the GTA are games are solid.All realize that each game has it's own style and flavor.(GTA:Vice City Stories was a fav of mine)Chinatown Wars will develop that and with that comes sales. BTW, March, April and May are usually low points in the year for software and hardware sales.

StarlightHunter
StarlightHunter

@Princess_Rectum, alot of people think RE 4 was superior, but RE 5 is immense, its an epic game. seriously it is well worth a buy.

nappan
nappan

@BlackBaldwin: I think they did make a game that was a little too short, and too lean on story. There was very little "buildup" either, but for all of that it is a heck of a lot of fun to play. The replay value is huge, the gameplay is refined, and the graphics are good. They could easily release a #6, now that they have an acceptable next-gen model for the 360/PS3/PC. Now that they have they've made their statement "we're still alive as a franchise" for this gen, they can hopefully focus on keeping the gameplay tight, but expand the scope of the story.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I'm not too surprised at all with the whole recession thing going on currently around the world. But yea I agree I'm glad that re5 did soo well but I'm totally up for the old resident evil to come back through. I just felt resident evil 5 was some watered down cheap thrill ride shooter game and held nothing that the older games held for suspense and drama...

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@kejigoto, Most of the games you mentioned arnt actually available on Nintendo's console but are games i love (e.g. Counterstrike, Half Life, Elder Scrolls), which was my point, sorry but i think i missed yours.

combatsoldier
combatsoldier

This list is completely wrong with its numbers.

B-SNiZ
B-SNiZ

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

Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

I played the Resident Evil 5 demo and......ugh. I loved Resident Evil 4 to death, and I really wanted to like Resident Evil 5, but......meh. :( If anyone says "Then play the full game and see if you like it" then they're obviously too thick to fully realize the entire purpose of a demo.

kejigoto
kejigoto

Glad to see some 360 games doing so well and Halo Wars turning it around. I haven't picked it up yet and probably never will but I see plenty of people on my friend's list playing it online all the time. As for everything else I'm not overly surprised. Nintendo kills it again with sales with Microsoft following up and then Sony bringing up the rear. Despite sales being down across the boards (a first for Nintendo and Microsoft) these are still some rather high numbers. However I am surprised to see Killzone coming in 7th, I mean after how hyped this game was and how many pre-orders it had you'd think that this would be pulling in more than this. I mean Resident Evil 5 alone killed it and that's only taking into account either the PS3 or 360 version. Also another shocker for me is that Street Fighter IV isn't up there at all either. @ thenephariouson Starcraft, Diablo, Warcraft, Counterstrike, Team Fortress, Half Life Deathmatch, Halo, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Battlefield 1942, Elder Scrolls III and IV (mod community), Mario Kart DS (though almost any version is heavily played), Street Fighter II, Super Smash Bros. (Melee and Brawl are heavily played), and the list goes on and on. Need I go on?

StarlightHunter
StarlightHunter

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

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@B-Sniz, Personally i would never touch the Wii as theres only so much Mario and kiddie/family sports,fitness, brain training type games i could take before wanting to vomit blood! Nintendo has always had a 'Niche' hardcore fanbase which they constantly take advantage of e.g. the countless Mario incarnations etc, however i amongst millions of others simply have different gaming tastes and would always prefer a 'Serious' gaming console over a console aimed at what is effectively children, bored housewifes, grandparents and fat kids. I do however take my hat off to Nintendo for being able to get away with it for so long. On another note Halo Wars is very good when played with & against friends.

XboxGuyxx
XboxGuyxx

B-Sniz don't worry about "us all playing the wii". Microsoft is making money on the 360, it has the highest attachment rate for any console out there. The most games sold per console and the most accessories, not to mention the Live revenue. Hardcore gaming has nothing to fear from the Wii.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

R6 1&2 still have a massive online following (on 360 anyway) even after 3 years since its initial release, what other games can say that?

snake031
snake031

Resident evil is resident evil.I am glad to see nice sales of resi 5.

rexCo
rexCo

"with the hits Rainbow Six Vegas 2 and Army of Two wooing more hardcore gamers uninterested in Smash Bros. Brawl." Give me a freakin' break. Brawl is not casual, who writes this crap? And if the trash that is Army of Two is "hardcore" then I'm happy being casual.

B-SNiZ
B-SNiZ

is halo wars good? it kinda makes me wish I had a 360.

B-SNiZ
B-SNiZ

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

TheArcade
TheArcade

@g3toutj00: It's not that I don't believe you but give some kind of source so to back up your claim. Nothing beats solid evidence.

Max1363
Max1363

@g3toutj00 "heh. RE5 sales might be better for 360 in America but world wide PS3 has outsold.. and on the topic of KZ2 its sold 1.4m worldwide" can u give some sale figures to prove your word?

Henninger
Henninger

Im glad that Resident Evil 5 did well. Hopefully Capcom will make another Resident Evil game that isnt an on-rails shooter. & i agree with xophaser that Resident Evil needs 2 go back 2 survival horror. I like the new Resident Evil style but its just not Resident Evil. Give us a remake of Resident Evil 2.

the_greenzero
the_greenzero

I wish I had Resident Evil 5 instead of crappy Gears 2.

AceJakk
AceJakk

Xbox 360: 330,000 units This boost in sales may partially be due to the RE5 red elite bundle. Every other console had a dip in sales and therefore there is no logical reason that there should be a boost in 360 sales other than the limited elite. I anxiously await next months NPD to compare.

AceJakk
AceJakk

Vasot: it's the same game on PS3. more people bought it on the 360 because of better availability of co-op on the 360 - it has nothing to do with the system - just familiarity with online. I have both a PS3 and a 360 - the vast majority of cross plats that are released I purchase for the PS3, but I bought RE5 for the 360 because I knew I was going to want to play co-op with friends who unfortunately don't have a PS3.

srdjan311
srdjan311

that doesn't surprise me Re5 is awesome!

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

so resident evil 5 should be number one to qualtiy game. BaraChat the wii and ds are crushing the ps 3 to so whats your point?

gta4fanboy201
gta4fanboy201

u also forget though that because people hav been buying these systems the amount is goin to decrease bc people already hav them

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Well the main reason i havnt got RE5 is that i already own L4D, i know the graphics hounds amongst you will provide me with a 'Thumbs Down' (not that i give a ****) however the multiplayer in L4D totally wipes the floor with RE5 (in my opinion), oh yeah, and the multiplayer is also FREE, i think it shows real cheak to purchase a game and are then asked to PURCHASE the additional update to allow 'MP Deathmatch', well they can shove it!!, when other companies e.g. VALVe can throw 5 games onto 1 disk (Orange Box) with no additional charge.

riou7
riou7 moderator moderator

zombie rules!

Seanr1
Seanr1

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

xophaser
xophaser

RE5 is great, but we need to email Capcom and demand it be a survival horror again. There are too many shooters game out there. RE5 is the end of the Chris/Wesker/Leon/Jill chapter. I want real zombies in RE6. All the bosses in RE are starting to look like they are from that movie "From Beyond"

Incetardis
Incetardis

@ phase4illini: Yea, but what if you're wrong? Onlive has amazing potential and nothing to lose...suck on that!

cyw1988
cyw1988

I am happy that Resident Evil 5 sold so many copies. This mean that Capcom would be motivated to make more Resident Evil titles. Also, I'm not surprised with the plunge in sales. I mean gamers nowadays are getting more sophisticated. They don't go for just any other game. So watch out game companies. You better not slack off when making your games.

g3toutj00
g3toutj00

heh. RE5 sales might be better for 360 in America but world wide PS3 has outsold.. and on the topic of KZ2 its sold 1.4m worldwide. Some of u are talking about KZ2 not being able to outsell Halo wars u r dumb. Halo wars sold just 1.1m and people are trading that game in like mad. I love seeing ps3 sales doing better love my ps3

TheArcade
TheArcade

@Petri87: Agree 100 percent!

Max1363
Max1363

RE5 Xbox 360 ate PS3 Version!!! Go Halo Wars!! "And I like to say it again and again PS3 never get XBOX in NA"

mykel77
mykel77

Thats how you do it Capcom! good job and congrats. RE5 was a great game.

GameBeaten
GameBeaten

And around this time next week I should be finally playing Resident Evil 5 on my birthday.

clqtte
clqtte

It infects me too aaaaaaaaa

Petri87
Petri87

Wow, PS3 and M-rated Wii games dont go over all that well now do thay. I really thought that Killzone 2 would sell atleast a couple of million by now. Also RE5 a million sold(by now anyway) on just the 360 now thats amazing. thought that would me more of a long tail game. Also if Wii play is on there then why isnt Hexic? It comes(or came) whit the 360 so its sold about 20million+ by now. Not really the same but you see my point, Wii play w/ remote shouldnt be on the list since its hardware and not software. And it even says "Figures unclude CE and NON-HARDWARE BUNDLES" so whys the Wiimote there. And no its not the same as Guitar Hero and Rock Band since the instruments are not first party hardware but third party peripheral just as the steering wheel is also just a peripheral that is a non essential component of the game.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

oops....forgot to add that i'm glad 2 see 3 ps3 games in the top 10....its a good sign

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

so kz2 sold as much (more or less, i forget the figure of last moneth) this month as it had in 2 days....man the lemmings are going to have a field day

StarlightHunter
StarlightHunter

RE 5 is an epic game, the best game i have played since RE 4. all it needs are some new stages for mercs and verseus and some new characters and it will be elevated to the next level of epicness.