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.
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.

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%)

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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