GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

NPD: Black Ops II is US top-selling game of 2012

Research group reveals latest Call of Duty not only December's top game, but entire year's; overall 2012 industry sales down 22 percent to $13.26 billion; Xbox 360 sells 1.4 million during month, Wii U total US reach 890,000.


Call of Duty: Black Ops II was the United States' best-selling game for December and all of 2012, research firm NPD Group announced today. This year marks the fourth consecutive year in which a Call of Duty game has been the top-selling title.

No Caption Provided

Overall, total video game sales for December slid 22 percent to $3.21 billion, while the total year's haul hit $13.26 billion, down 22 percent from last year's total of $16.99 billion. NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan cautioned that this figure only represents new physical retail sales of hardware, software, and accessories, and makes up just 50 percent of total consumer spend.

"When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in December such as used and rentals at $217 million, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and the consumer spend on social network games at $765 million, we would estimate the total consumer spend in December to be over $4.1 billion," Callahan said in a statement.

Hardware also took a hit during December (-20 percent to $1.07 billion) and for all of 2012 (-27 percent to $4.04 billion). Callahan said Wii U sales were lower on a unit basis when compared to the original Wii in December 2006, but due to the Wii U's higher price, the system generated 11 percent more dollar sales year-to-date than the Wii by the end of 2006.

Separately, Microsoft announced that it sold 1.4 million Xbox 360 consoles during December. According to the Halo maker, that represents more than double the next closest competitor. Total consumer spend on the Xbox 360 platform (games, hardware, accessories) totaled $1.27 billion for the period. The Xbox 360 has now been the top-selling console in the United States for 24 straight months.

Nintendo also chimed in, saying the Wii U sold 460,000 units in December, boosting the system's total US tally to 890,000. In all, Wii U hardware sales have generated $300 million, $30 million better than the original Wii did during the same period of time. Additionally, New Super Mario Bros. U has now sold more than 580,000 units in the US, at an attach rate of more than 65 percent.

Total software sales for December slid 27 percent to $1.58 billion, while software sales for the year suffered less, dipping 22 percent to $7.09 billion. Callahan said a major reason why retail sales for the year were down double-digits was due to a lack of new releases. According to NPD data, 2012 saw 29 percent fewer titles across consoles, portables, and PC. However, the games that were released generated 8 percent more units per title and 11 percent more dollars per title.

Another bright spot for December 2012 was Ubisoft's action-shooter Far Cry 3

No Caption Provided

"Far Cry 3 generated positive critical reviews and ranked sixth overall based on December unit sales. This praise, along with stepping outside the hectic November launch period, led to this game being the second-most successful December launch since NPD began tracking retail sales in 1995," Callahan said.

Switching to accessories, this unit saw revenue dive during December (-14 percent to $603 million) and for the year (-8 percent to $2.51 billion). Callahan said Activision's Skylanders series was a continued success during the year, with character and battle packs for Skylanders Giants driving more than double the unit sales compared to the original Skylanders last year.

Additionally, December 2012 was the best December on record for point and subscription card sales on a dollar and unit basis. And lastly, the headset and headphones category within the overall accessories unit grew compared to 2011, led by sales of Turtle Beach peripherals.

DECEMBER US GAME SALES (November 25-December 29)
Total retail sales: $3.21 (-22%)
Non-PC hardware: $1.07 billion (-20%)
Non-PC software: $1.54 billion (-26%)
Accessories: $603 million (-14%)
Total software: $1.58 billion (-27%)

Total retail sales: $13.26 billion (-22%)
Non-PC hardware: $4.04 billion (-27%)
Non-PC software: $6.71 billion (-23%)
Accessories: $2.51 billion (-8%)
Total Software: $7.09 billion (-22%)

Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360, PS3, Wii U, PC) - Activision Blizzard
2. Just Dance 4 (X360, Wii, Wii U, PS3) - Ubisoft
3. Halo 4 (X360) - Microsoft
4. Assassin's Creed III (X360, PS3, Wii U, PC) - Ubisoft
5. Madden NFL 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, Wii U) - Electronic Arts
6. Far Cry 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Ubisoft
7. NBA 2K13 (X360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC) - Take-Two
8. Skylanders Giants (X360, Wii, PS3, 3DS, Wii U) - Activision
9. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) - Nintendo
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, PSP) - Electronic Arts

Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360, PS3, Wii U, PC) - Activision Blizzard
2. Madden NFL 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, Wii U) - Electronic Arts
3. Halo 4 (X360) - Microsoft
4. Assassin's Creed III - (X360, PS3, PC, Wii U) - Ubisoft
5. Just Dance 4 (Wii, X360, Wii U, PS3) - Ubisoft
6. NBA 2K13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, Wii U, PC) - Take-Two
7. Borderlands 2 (X360, PS3, PC) - Take-Two
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (X360, PS3, Wii, PC) - Activision
9. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Wii, X360, DS, 3DS, PS3, PS Vita, PC) - Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, PSP) - Electronic Arts

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 137 comments about this story