US game retail industry tanks in January - NPD

New physical channel sales fall 34 percent to $750.6 million; Xbox 360 leads hardware, Modern Warfare 3 tops software.

The US retail game industry has taken its first step into 2012, and it appears to have resulted in a broken ankle. Today, the NPD Group reported dismal January retail sales, with total consumer spend in the US falling 34 percent to $750.6 million.

Modern Warfare 3 outperformed all others during a very slow month.

"One factor for the double digit declines in new physical software was the lack of new launches. New launches in January 2011 represented 13 percent of dollar sales and new launch performance dropped 99 percent in Jan 2012. Games like Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2, and DC Universe Online ranked within the top ten last year," commented NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

New software sales for console, portable, and PC games fell 37 percent during the month to $379.6 million. However, NPD did note that it expects sales outside the new physical channel, such as full-game and add-on downloads, social games, subscriptions, and rentals, brought in an additional $350 million to $400 million in January.

The top game of 2011 maintained its number one position, as Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 led January's sales charts. In fact, there was no change at the top over December. Ubisoft's Just Dance 3 again finished second at US retail, with Bethesda Softworks' The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim securing third place. Take-Two's NBA 2K12 emerged to edge out EA's Battlefield 3 for fourth- and fifth-best-selling games.

Hardware took an equally hard hit in January, falling 38 percent to $199.5 million. Though NPD does not release its sales figures, Microsoft independently announced that its console was the best selling of the bunch for the 13th month in a row, having shifted 270,000 units. Sony and Nintendo had not disclosed hardware sales figures as of press time.

JANUARY 2012 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $750.6 million (-34%)
Non-PC hardware: $199.5 million (-38%)
Non-PC software: $355.9 million (-38%)
Total software: $379.6 million (-37%)
Accessories: $195.2 million (-18%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR JANUARY 2012
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Activision
2. Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3) - Ubisoft
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC) - Bethesda Softworks
4. NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC) - Take-Two
5. Battlefield 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - EA
6. Madden NFL 12 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP) - EA
7. Mario Kart 7 (3DS) - Nintendo
8. Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PC) - Activision Blizzard
9. Zumba Fitness 2 (Wii) - Majesco
10. Saints Row: The Third (360, PS3, PC) - THQ

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Discussion

89 comments
Taffelost
Taffelost

Yeah let's release all the best games in december so they can kill each other off. Then we can complain over why people won't buy all the mediocre bull that get released the rest of the year.

sircyrus
sircyrus

I'm surprised that SWTOR wasn't on the top 10 sales for January. A bit worrying that 1 month after release they're being that much outsold by older releases.

MrFacepunch
MrFacepunch

After the massive sales of December a decline in January is rational, expected. I don't see the need for alarm.

jmrwacko
jmrwacko

CoD1 pic = Subtle gamespot joke?

cryingdevil63
cryingdevil63

Well considering that everyone cashed in on the holiday launches and basically no releases in January,this is expected

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

well if your hardware fails so much than yea demand is gonna be high for new ones

soulless4now
soulless4now

Bobby Kotick must be extremely happy much to my dismay.

bibliomaniac15
bibliomaniac15

Putting a screenshot of COD1 for MW3 is a massive disgrace to COD1.

Superzone
Superzone

Who the hell keeps buying all of the Just Dance games....

marduc
marduc

Shocking. All you have to do is review the new releases for January to figure out what happened. In other news.. Publishers and game developers are not surprised at all. They did not expect blockbuster sales in January since they had nothing rolling out to drive their sales.

max_1111
max_1111

OMG MUST BE PIRACY!!! QUICK INSTITUTE MOAR DRM!!!!!!! NAAAAOOO!!!!!!

xs_paine
xs_paine

Captain Foley and Sergeant Moody FTW. :D

Radnen
Radnen

Question: How do they compare to LAST JANUARY? Sales falling 34% from December is just a seasonal thing, there's two things: 1, it's after Christmas people are broke and 2, No great games have released in January. Does the game industry really expect strong sells every damn day of the year?

digi-demon
digi-demon

Can't wait till march for Ninja Gaiden 3 :D

moncealyo
moncealyo

What does the game industry expect? Everyone is broke after Christmas. Although there are a few cool games coming up.

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

who keeps buying all these just dances seriously???

singhellotaku
singhellotaku

Why do you write these stories every january? Games are not released in january thats why business is slow.

monson21502
monson21502

its time for next gen... all the devs keep making the same games over and over with each 1 getting worse... its time for better hardware so the devs can add something new

baal46
baal46

There is no news here.

whakyZ86
whakyZ86

ok...sorry...have to follow up with: people play games because they are fun. But those experiences can last for very long periods of time. Honestly, buying a game like Skyrim gives one HOURS of fun at the cost of a higher electricity bill. The industry must hate games like that because they take whole swaths of the market away from them for extended periods of time. I guarantee that more will happen to the consumer (us) as more players with plenty of money begin entering the market. We will have amazing innovation, and enjoy every minute of it, but there will be a lot of games that fail simply because we wont buy them. It's a HUGE risk. And all game companies around are going to try and find ways to hedge against that risk. Online passes are an example of this, as are ideas involving games with no past-use resale value.

whakyZ86
whakyZ86

@john1486 I think the industry is experiencing a business fluctuation. Games are showing potential as money-making machines, and there are a lot of yield hungry investors out their looking for just that. The best games are by nature creative interactive experiences that succeed only if there is enough enthusiasm behind the end product. But that interest is contingent upon whether the consumer-gamer is even interested in a NEW game at that time. The fluctuations in the market must be huge as gamers get their big-season game fix and let the experience marinate over the course of a few months or more. They'll try and find ways of innovating that will grab more people (and there are plenty of markets out there...), but they'll dilute the experiences for US and stop us from buying games every time they release the next "installment"

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Top Game Sales for January 2011?? Half of those games weren't even out then!!! MW3, BF3, Skyrim, etc, etc.

daabulls23
daabulls23

Are these figures compared to December or January '11? Because comparing to last year's January would make a whole lot more sense than comparing it to holiday driven sales in December.

ProMethUse
ProMethUse

very much surprised on the top 10 games list... Zumba Fitness 2!?!

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

Look at that EA stock plunging! Proof that every single action count! -10% in 5 days!

netflixman
netflixman

What were those thin silver things with those pictures on the front? I dont remember.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

Oh, those good old days with Call Of Duty 1 were the s***.

lordquasar
lordquasar

Weird. I got two new games this month, but I can see why. I mean the biggest spending of the year just got over.

JOHN1486
JOHN1486

I don't like to think of myself as a negative person but I don't like the way the industry has been going in the past few years. This has been the most creative and prosperous generation video game have ever seen but with oversaturation and lack of IP innovation of late I see the real possibility of a collapse similar to the 1980's though perhaps not as bad. I don't ever see console going away but there is so much out there it concerns that me that when the dust settles we may only be left with a few generic money makers and very few original ideas. (you know who you are) I only hope games like COD which I don't hate, just have become numb to, will innovate and reinvigerate before they become just another guitar hero and tony hawk and drive the rest into oblivion. Just my 2 cents....

TheDarkSpot
TheDarkSpot

So I got 3 games from that list. Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and Saints Row: The Third

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

@Vodoo First of all, these are US sales alone, not worldwide. It is well known that consoles are stronger in the US, UK and Japan. But in the rest of the world, PC gaming is as big as consoles, if not bigger. And yes, these numbers don't include digital distribution sales, which are huge in the PC market. Just ask Valve on their sales, or why EA and Activision are lately saying that digital distribution is the future (albeit I won't be buying anything from EA's Origin service, after all their lies they told us costumers).

Vodoo
Vodoo

These numbers clearly show how the pc is pocket change in the overall game sales industry.... Non-PC software: $355.9 million, Total software: $379.6 million. That means PC SOFTWARE IS ONLY $23.7 MILLION!!! And this is an uber bad month. In a good month of games the difference would be even greater. The numbers are clear as day, right in front of everyone to see. So either the pc market is just abysmal or most pc gamers are pirates that don't like to pay for their games. Either way, the incentive for developers to make games for the pc just isn't there. And for those in denial, we'll come back to this topic when March's NPD sales come out. Then we'll see what a good month looks like. Oh... and before anyone says that this doesn't include digital sales, the digital sales number they ESTIMATE (with no real proof of anything) includes add-ons, casual games from social networking sites (which is the real bread winner), subscriptions and rentals, in addition to full game downloads (which is probably 1/20th of the figure they gave).

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

This article makes an implication that digital sales are killing physical sales, but has not figures on digital sales. I would like to know what the digital sales are when you get the chance Mr. Magrino.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Hard to compare month over month sales since the releases can vary so widely year to year. Probably a better comparison will be the quarter to quarter numbers but again it's all dependent on the release schedule.

swamptick
swamptick

Another article, another example of Microsoft getting things right.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

Not a startling revelation here.....nothing worth buying came out last month so of course the profits tanked..... Here's a nickel's worth of free obvious information.....do nothing and nothing you will receive.....

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

The heavies came out before the end of the year and people spend their money at the end of the year. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

But these numbers don't include digital distribution sales. I'm sure that the picture would have been much better if they added Steam sales numbers, etc.

efunk25
efunk25

What a pointless report. No quality blockbuster games came out in January. Why don't we report the NFL ratings dropping in after the Superbowl. Jeez something must be wrong with the NFL! LOL

JusADude11
JusADude11

Its kind of obvious, no must have games came out in january..so of course it would be lackluster. Wait till march...there will be a...mass effect..on the game industry...pun intended.

Frimmel
Frimmel

For me there was the part where I bought four new games from October to the end of November and hadn't finished with any of them by the time January rolled around. Didn't need something new.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

Bad economy = bad sales. Games are a luxury, and one of the first things to fall. For me though, I'm just waiting for the sales drops, because there's about 6 or 7 games I've been waiting for. I am saddened to see AC: Revelations out of the top 10. Especially when just dance is at #2. My god... we are doomed

XanderZane
XanderZane

Terrible hardware and software sales for January. Good to see NBA 2K12 still in the top 10. With no b-ball game from EA to interfere, 2K Sports owns the NBA basketball genre. Sony pulled out a couple of years ago. Can believe people are buying Skylanders and Zumba Fitness. Where's Uncharted 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations & Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

No releases. Soul Calibur 5 and FF 13-2 are in next months NPD numbers. Who would want to release anything right now anyway? My back log of games is still substantial and Mass Effect 3 comes out in 1 month. Beyond that and the Witcher 2 in April I don't see much to pull me away from Skyrim, Zelda, Dark Souls, and BF3

scout7
scout7

Not counting digital games is so useful... I bought Genkibowl VII, Q.U.B.E, Dustforce, Sonic CD, Oil Rush.

TallkissCoM
TallkissCoM

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

Breyant
Breyant

lol that video was hilarious

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

It makes me cry inside that Just Dance 3 beat out Skyrim.