PC gaming stops slide in 2006

NPD numbers show slight growth in US retail sales of PC games for the year, figures still down from 2004.


Earlier this month, the industry-tracking NPD Group released its 2006 US retail sales tally for the gaming hardware, software, and accessory market. The total was $12.5 billion, a record year for the industry, but that number didn't include the PC gaming market. This week the NPD Group released its year-end PC software sales figures, and while the market did better than in the previous year, it still fell short of record-breaking status.

Retail PC sales for the year added up to $970 million, according to the NPD Group, less than two percent more than the $953 million it reported for 2005. However, the growth still has not made up ground the US retail PC market lost after posting $1.1 billion in revenues for 2004. It should be noted that all these figures are accounting only for boxed, retail sales of PC game software, and do not take into account money generated through subscription fees, micropayments, or digital distribution of games.

"It's refreshing to see an increase in retail sales of PC games after having experienced a few years of declines," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. "With revenues from digital downloads and subscriptions on the rise as well, the PC games segment of the industry remains healthy."

Best-selling PC Games of 2006, by units sold

1. World of Warcraft--Vivendi Games
2. The Sims 2--Electronic Arts
3. The Sims 2: Open For Business Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
4. Star Wars: Empire At War--LucasArts
5. The Sims 2: Pets Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
6. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion--Take-Two Interactive
7. Age of Empires III--Microsoft
8. The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
9. Civilization IV--Take-Two Interactive
10. The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts

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Avatar image for BaldursGate18

Bumbed out that it's all sequels and licened stuff. :(

Avatar image for goosebumpsfreak

All of these games are great! But I am surprised that CIV4 is #9. Figured it would be in the top five.

Avatar image for JigglyWiggly2

Its all n00b games, wheres cs;s I want more n00bs so i can own them, I mean like i was playing cs:s today pwning as awlays first place n stuff, cause i pwn n stuff.

Avatar image for true_apollo

It seems to me like the decline in the last couple of years has been due to a lack of truly innovative titles. If you look at the record breaking 2004, there was WoW, Rome: Total War, UT2004, Far Cry, The Sims 2, and HL2 all in the same year. Hell, the Sims 2 with all its expansions takes up half of the spots on '06's top ten! Since then, there have been great titles yes, but not one after the other in quick succession like in 2004. That said, I think '07 will be a huge year for the PC platform with games like Crysis, Burning Crusade, UT3, Supreme Commander, C&C3, etc. ****warning fanboy rant**** I hate to stoop to this level, but here it is. Excuse me if I don't have the $4000 to drop on a gaming PC, and I'd rather spend one tenth that on a console. Excuse me for buying an Xbox that is guaranteed to be fully compatible with great new games for 5 years to come. Excuse me if I don't want to drop $400-$600 dollars every 3 years on a new graphics card just so I can play the newest and greatest game. So what if consoles are turning into computers, last time I checked it's not necessary to sink half a grand into a console every few years to keep it up to speed! Stop insulting console gamers' choice of system. No one cares which system you get as long as the games are fun!

Avatar image for CRLCRL

Anyone noticed that as new consoles come out PC sales, dont dip maybe but don't grow much? Probably because the consoles 'simplicity' means in 6 months to a year there is much better technology which you can only get on PC..... So in a few years the sales will improve. And you've goto love the people saying YEAH! YEAH! 360/Wii teh pwnge i 0wn u nabs !!!!1111111 when the only reason consoles are getting better is because there gettin more like PC's? Duh, the PS4 will be a fricking Gaming computer with a controller and PS4 l33t posted on the side ffs. Say what you want but PC gamers but in the end we'll all meet up back where we started; with us on a PC with some basic IT skills and tards with their ' consoles' (computer with gamepad and windows dumbass installed).

Avatar image for theKSMM

Interestingly, if I have a choice of platforms for a particular game, my preference is still to get it for the PC. The PC versions of a game usually allow much greater customization and modification than console versions. In addition they usually support higher resolutions as well as the latest graphics and sound technology available. On the downside, the user experience is far less consistent from PC to PC than it is for console users. And the patching can be a mixed bag too--you may have to patch to get a playable game, but sometimes those patches can bring some extra goodies with them too. And with all of the new-generation consoles supporting downloadable updates, this last gripe may not be limited to PCs anymore. Long live PC gaming. As long as I can afford to keep my PC up-to-date, I'll always have room for another great title in my library.

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

SmOOthNoodle: You are right. You can tell the intelligent gamers from the fanboys. Thank god for intelligent gamers..... Times are going to be tough for the next couple years for PC gaming. I really hope it can maintain a market in gaming for the format. My heart hopes yes, my brain says doubtful.

Avatar image for 1SleepyGit

@fmcuk Did you not read what I wrote about what you can do with PC gaming? Plus all those genres you listed for consoles are also avaiilable for PC, ESPECIALLY the RPGs! In fact, the roleplay games are more extensive on PC than on console, Neverwinter NIghts, Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, the upcoming Dragon Age *drools* and (looks at the list in the article) Oblivion anyone? (Which was considered by many to have been dumbed down to being developed simultaneously for a console with the result that the menus did not take advantage of the keyboard and mouse, thanks alot 360! Also, the mods available for the PC version are hundreds times better since we get FREE, USER-MADE mods!). Say what you will about the future of the PC, but please get your facts straight first before you say anything.

Avatar image for t_walk1

Hey sales growth is sales growth. No on in the industry will be upset over it. and if you added in subscriptions ad DL's (important parts of PC gaming so imo they should have been included) you would almost quadruple that number I bet. PC FTW bottom line. And WTF do people only play sims 2 these days? EA must love that.

Avatar image for rugripper40

yeah man...pc gaming isnt going away anytime soon....plus they didnt count digital downloads which are probably booming right now....the awe of the eyecandy of the 360 has got everyone in a stupor.....lol

Avatar image for Supperdude9

You know, if Unreal 2007 came out in 2006 as it was originally projected to, we might have had a bigger boost in PC game sales. Talk all you want, but the Unreal series makes money.

Avatar image for smoothn00dle

Games like WOW and Sims have been on the PC chart top 10 for almost two years. This indicated PC platform is staying still. The outlook for PC as Game Platform for the next 4 years will be difficult. The reasons are: 1) Competition: Next Gen console can completed with PC in every functionalities, Console is becoming more and more like PC, USB port, Hard disk, Wifi. Example PS3 with added USB port can use keyboard and mouse. If PS3 deliver on it promises and expand it market share, on 2011 it may reduced it price around 200 dollars. 2) Value Return for Hardware In term of hardware cost, console have life cycle of five years or more. Console developer squeezes every hardware power out of the system before moved to the next. While PC developers required their consumers to upgrade their hardware. This phenomenal can't sustained itself in a long term, especially when Console and PC's performance gap are narrow. 3)Living Room Fail to move into the living room. Because of Bugs, PC design, Complexity, Low reliability, high maintaining cost, Upgrade and downtime and Security, I predict PC will be hard to accept by the mainstream in a foreseeable future. The existence of Xbox is the proof of this. 4) M$ shift focus to console. If they have faith in PC, why do they join the console party? 5)Version and hardware issues with PC. Too many different version of OS, XP has about ten, couple with hardware drivers and configuration setting. Just too complex for both developers and users. Especially developers, console give a better prediction in term time and cost. 6)Japan, the country of Console. For example: In Japan, people respect their console, is part of their culture. Just like a few hardcore gamer here, it is a whole nation of them there. Japan is the engine drive console advance. Sony, Nintendo, Square enix, Capcom, Konami, Sega, they keep making quality games.

Avatar image for smoothn00dle

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

Avatar image for fmcuk

PCs will own when they have more games variety. What is what you can play on PCs? MMORPGS, simulation-strategy games, and FPS THAT'S ALL What can you play in consoles? Until PC games get out of the FPS/Sim/MMORPG ghetto, they will be always the last in sales against consoles. Fighting games, FPS, Top-Down Shooters, Japanese RPGs, American RPGs, simulation-strategy, arcade, action games, puzzles, music games, party games, etc. And don't get me started on price and simplicity (getting / installing drivers, patches, BSODs, etc.)

Avatar image for blamder-drag

Computers are the next generation gaming platform thats always next generation. I mean people are shelling out $400-$600 for a gaming console but for $450 you can get a graphics card for your comp that wipes everthing else out. all to say PCs own

Avatar image for i_like_pizza

Retail doesn't account for nearly all of the PC's total sales. Why does anyone bother posting the retail numbers any more? They're just completely misleading.

Avatar image for beestung

That's pretty sad when 5 of the top 10 games were The Sims 2. PC gaming may not be dead but it sure as hell is close. If you love strategy games or WoW the PC is a necessity but other than that, i dunno. The only PC game that holds any interest for me over the next year is Spore as a console port would undoubtedly suck.

Avatar image for TriZZleMayHem

Simply Put....The Sims Dominated the market. Thanks to EA

Avatar image for 1SleepyGit

@gtrplayermsnc Can say that about any gamer. At least a PC gamer (usually) learns what goes into their box and how to put it together, unlike console gamers.

Avatar image for 1SleepyGit

PCs allow a gaming experience not found on a console. Not saying that they are necessarily better, but rather appeals to a different type of gamer. PCs allow users to mod their own content without being beholden to any corporation, and to distribute it (as long as it doesn't infringe on any copyrights) as they like. Take Oblivion for instance, you don't get the instability problems on the consoles that you get on PCs but at the same time you lose out on the free user mods available on PCs, many of which are just as good if not better than alot of the content available from the developers themselves, more diverse, and best of all FREE! Same with The Sims, the Baldur's Gate games (there are still mods being made for those games, despite their relative old age to newer games, just goes to show how modding can prolong the life of a great game), etc. This is why I hope that PC gaming does not go away, for the unique aspects that a PC brings. Sure, X-box is bringing out XNA for people to make their own games, but it won't be as flexible or give as much freedom as that found on PCs (plus I doubt you will be able to mod preexisting games as much, if at all, and you will lose out on the communities you get with the mod communities on PC for just the regular X-box community). At the end of the day, PC rocks you all know it! ;)

Avatar image for GangsterPanda

I'd like to see how large the step from first to second place is, in terms of sales. I got a feeling that the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft is quite a landslide ahead of The Sims 2. Though I have to say, it's a tragedy to see 5 versions of The Sims on the top 10 list. And people say that the PC only gets crappy games! ;)

Avatar image for jcwordlife

Sims dominating PC sales?!! OMFG! :o

Avatar image for Riverwolf007

PC gaming will never go away, it drives hardware sales, when was the last time someone had to upgrade to run a spreadsheet.

Avatar image for Thanos_of_MW

@lime05, Not everybody is a hard core gamer like us :wink: The Sims are games for the masses of casuals.

Avatar image for chrisdojo

hopefully this will bring more exclusive PC games to us!!

Avatar image for lime05

What on earth is it with THE SIMS ? . I just can't understand of all games why it in particular would have such mass appeal.. I guess it's the equivalent of a "digital doll house" ,and it cross's both gender and age markets. Still it sucks lol , Interesting to see Oblivion up there, considering it's High Spec req's.

Avatar image for simscube

Note that half of the games are of the sims franchise

Avatar image for LosDaddie

PC gaming will never catch console gaming in sales.

Avatar image for Vorlin

"joe_elwick, the most graphically pleasing game ever made is now running on a console and that is a fact. PC is beaten to the ground, live with it." I beg to differ on the "beaten into the ground" comment. 2007 will show some games that will beat out consoles in the graphics department, as well as gameplay. And at the same time, notice I'm not trashing consoles just because of that?

Avatar image for artofshreddin

PC isn't beaten to the ground. gaming on a PC isn't as mainstream as consoles, mainly due to misconceptions and ignorance. People who goto best buy and buy a 120 dollar videocard and expect it to run the newest baddest games is ignorant, sure have to pay a little more for a pc to game it's a MUCH BETTER experience. We love gaming on our pc's and the only console i really find worth my money is still the wii. I'm looking forward to 07 there's alot of awesome games coming out and there will be more to follow!

Avatar image for reconwg

5xThe Simms in top 10.. verrrrrryyy nice 50%

Avatar image for CtrlShift

joe_elwick, the most graphically pleasing game ever made is now running on a console and that is a fact. PC is beaten to the ground, live with it.

Avatar image for Max_Hydrogen

To quote Ted Dibiase: "Money, money, money, moneeeeey; everybody's got a price, ha ha ha ha ha!"

Avatar image for smoothn00dle

If company of heroes was on console with Mouse and Keyboard. I would play it. So miss Real time strategy game *v*

Avatar image for joe_elwick

How can anyone seriously, compare a console to a pc?? for s start, pc's are what these console games are made on!! anyone who knows anything about pc's knows that in a lot of cases, even when its a straight port from a console to a pc, you can increase the resolution(much more than a hd tv) maximise frame rates ect......consoles are always going to be behind pc's when it comes to capability(unless of course you have a cheap pc set-up) but spend about 800.00 uk pounds on a very good pc and you will laugh at anyone who suggests they are even close!!! Apart from the overall graphics, frame rates and resolutions, the pc also has a far better controller in the mouse and keyboard for most games...this includes adventure games, first person shooters and rts's....the type of people that think consoles can compete are the ones that either have not played them on a half descent pc, or they are brainwashed by the constant advertising console manufacterers do!! I tried playing first person shooters on my xbox 360!!! what a farsicle! the person you control turns like a robot! as far as online is concerned, the pc is far better again, you can update games, add numerous addons to the games and all this is free!!!! even all these games that nintendo are charging 8 pound a time for , are all free!!!! so all you console lovers out there, do yourself a favour!! and invest in a nice pc(which you get alot more out of than just the gaming as well)

Avatar image for CtrlShift

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

Avatar image for CtrlShift

mitsman, I could not agree with you more. I got my first PC 93 or 94, a 486 DX2 bought for roughly $2000. My favourite genre has always been adventure games. From time to time I clean off the dust gathered on my Quest for glory collection and give it a serious run. And guess what, the games are still friggin fun to play. Monkey Island, Future wars to name a few brought me so many hours of gaming pleasure. Ever since C64, computer gaming has always been top notch in my eyes, but not anymore. Sometimes I ask myself "Where has all the imagination gone?".

Avatar image for mitsman

It was on the PC that I played my first games, when I got my first computer in 1993. Never even had a console until 2003. Spent a lot of hours of my life especially on adventure games, but they were worth it. Too bad game makers let this genre decline, because I really miss it. Notice that not even one adventure made it to the best-selling list, something that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago. The Longest Journey and Siberia were great surprises and I am really looking forward to Jane Jensen's Grey Matter.

Avatar image for kaziechameleon

i can't believe company of heroes didn't do better, that game was fantastic. darn it.

Avatar image for kaziechameleon

well to maintian such a strong number as far as sales are concerned when online retail, and digital distribution is taking off, it's quite impressive, that has to mean that over all sales are way up, i mean look at wow subscription fees and steam, if you don't count that you are throwing out some huge numbers, it also proves that digital distribution won't replace hard copy distribution any time soon.

Avatar image for smoothn00dle

Personally, I like PC gaming, gave some best time of my life like Diablo & Warcraft, first come out. At that time, console only come with a carditage and two controllers but console now have catch up while PC are staying still. PC game developers are shifting to Console in both quality and number. Game like WOW will very likely port to PS3 or Xbox369. This will be a huge blow to PC as Gaming Platform.

Avatar image for romeo_cheung

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

Avatar image for 1SleepyGit

@CtrlShift Obviously you don't know anything about PCs. You can't 'make' a game for a PC like you can for a console because the hardware varies from unit to unit, unlike consoles in which every PS2 is identical. And so you don't like PC gaming, big whoop we do and so we would like the PC gaming industry to continue, is that so hard to understand?

Avatar image for CtrlShift

PC-gamers, please just stop it already. Wytefang, I bet you have a factory sticker somewhere on your body that says, "made by microsoft". The only reason why the titles you mentioned might actually look better on a top end PC is because they are all programmed for the PC to begin with. Let's talk Biohazard 4. The game runs like butter on the gamecube, a machine with a 485 MHz CPU and 40MB total memory. Would these specs even be enough to start Windows? Ofcourse games that are brought to other formats take hits. It's a simple fact. Besides, who wants to play PC games on a console anyway. PC-games are OK but they are nothing I really need. If you look at it this way, there are many really good games coming out for consoles that PC-gamers will never even get a chance to play.

Avatar image for blackleech

Wow... The Sims series can really sell a lot...

Avatar image for Sevius

So does this mean that the PC section of my local EB Games will stop shrinking? (It's only one shelf these days anyway.)

Avatar image for ColdfireTrilogy

lol it doesnt include subscriptions .... 1 world (well i guess it can be a word) WoW.... 8000000 X $14.50 hmmmm someone not wanting to post subscription games for a reason ... wow would gross well over a hundred mill..... i think that would help a little ... 116,000,000 ya basucakky an increase of 1/9 total PC sale revenue alone.

Avatar image for easteast

Last year wasn't a good year for me game-wise. I barely ever went to EB Games or Gamestop and didn't get many new games.