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NPD: Black Ops II tops declining November

Latest Call of Duty the best-selling game of last month in US; Xbox 360 sells 1.26 million systems; Wii U sales total 425,000 during the period.


The NPD Group reported United States industry sales for the month of November today, revealing Call of Duty: Black Ops II was the best-selling game of the month that saw overall year-over-year declines. Rounding out the top five best-selling games of November were Halo 4, Assassin's Creed III, Just Dance 4, and Madden NFL 13.

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Overall, total software sales slid 11 percent to $1.46 billion compared to $1.65 billion a year ago. Hardware also took a hit during the month of November, with sales in this category dropping by 13 percent to $838.9 million, down from $962.2 million this time last year. Though sales across the board are down, NPD analyst Liam Callahan cautioned that these do not nearly represent the entire consumer spend on games.

"These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software, and accessories, which account for roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games," Callahan said in a statement. "When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in November such as used and rentals at $207 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 $410 million, we would estimate the total consumer spend in November to be over $3.1 billion."

Callahan also made a specific point to compare November 2012's results with those of November 2005, when the industry began to transition between console generations. When compared, retail sales are up 97 percent in 2012 over 2005, which "really demonstrates the long-term health of retail sales even as many platforms are quite late in their life cycles," he said.

Additionally, November saw the smallest year-over-year decrease in terms of total dollar and unit sales this year. Callahan said this is a sign of momentum as the holiday season continues to ramp up.

Specifically concerning software, November's declines are tied with August 2012 for the smallest year-over-year decrease thus far this year. And notably, half of all software dollars sold during the month were attributed to the Xbox 360, Callahan said.

With regard to hardware, Callahan said November 2012 represented the lowest hardware decline for dollar sales thus far this year. He also sounded off on the recent launch of the Wii U, noting its performance is tracking better than the original Wii in 2006.

"The much anticipated launch of the new Wii U console brought in more dollars than the Wii launch in November 2006, up 21 percent from that launch month," Callahan said. "With an average price 35 percent higher for the Wii U at launch compared to the Wii, this is an example of how consumers are willing to come out and spend when they see the value of the product."

Bright spots for hardware in November were the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo DS. The PS Vita saw the second-highest month of sales on a unit basis in November since the device launched in February this year. Callahan said the uptick in sales can be attributed to the numerous bundles that Sony offered in the month.

As for the DS, Callahan said it was the only platform to increase in hardware sales year-over-year.

NPD did not release specific sales figures for hardware, but Microsoft itself announced that total Xbox 360 console sales hit 1.26 million during November, fueled in part by 750,000 system sales during Black Friday week alone. The total 1.26 million figure is down from the 1.7 million sold this time last year.

Microsoft also said that total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in November (hardware, software, and accessories) totaled $1.2 billion. This is more than any other console in the United States, Microsoft said.

Separately, Nintendo announced sales for its own hardware and software. The company has now sold 425,000 Wii U units in the US (up from 400,000), falling short of the original Wii's first-week total of 475,000. New Super Mario Bros. U sold in excess of 243,000 units during the month, and was attached at nearly 60 percent of all Wii U sales.

The Nintendo 3DS sold nearly 540,000 units during the month, bringing its total to close to 6.5 million units life-to-date in the US. Mario Kart 7 also reached a milestone during November, becoming the second 3DS game to cross 2 million units sold in the US.

As for the aging original Wii, that system sold 420,000 units during the month, bringing its total US sales figure to over 40 million. The original Nintendo DS sold 370,000 systems in November, with Nintendo expecting the hardware line to cross 53 million life-to-date unit sales in the "next few days."

Concerning accessories, sales in this department dropped 8 percent to $280.9 million, down from $305.3 million last year. Though accessories overall took a hit, Activision's Skylanders franchise was booming during the month. Skylanders unit sales both of the original and new entry Skylanders Giants rose 250 percent compared to November 2011.

NOVEMBER US GAME SALES (October 28-November 24)

Total retail sales: $2.55 billion (-11%)
Non-PC hardware: $838.9 million (-13%)
Non-PC software: $1.43 billion (-11%)
Accessories: $280.9 million (-8%)
Total software: $1.46 billion (-11%)

Title (Platforms) - Publisher

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360, PS3, Wii U, PC) - Activision Blizzard
2. Halo 4 (Xbox 360) - Microsoft
3. Assassin's Creed III (X360, PS3, PC, Wii U) - Ubisoft
4. Just Dance 4 (X360, Wii, Wii U, PS3) - Ubisoft
5. Madden NFL 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, Wii U) - Electronic Arts
6. Skylanders Giants (Wii, X360, PS3, 3DS, Wii U) - Activision Blizzard
7. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (X360, PS3, PS Vita , PC) - Electronic Arts
8. NBA 2K13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, Wii U, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
9. WWE 13 (X360, PS3, Wii) - THQ
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, PSP) - Electronic Arts

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