US games sales let down by the big 3 in November – but it’s not all bad

The US video game industry doesn’t look particularly healthy at the moment, with the latest data from NPD showing an overall spending drop of 24 per cent year-on-year during the month of November.

The industry generated just $1.97 billion last month, down from $2.6 billion in November 2015. Not only were hardware sales down by 35 per cent year-on-year, dropping to $723.8 million from $1.12 billion in November 2015, but console software sales were also struggling, down 18 per cent to $955.2 million compared to $1.17 billion last year.

"The year-on-year software revenue decline was driven by the strong comparison to last November’s top 3 titles,” NPD analyst Sam Naji stated.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Star Wars: Battlefront, which were all full-priced console new releases. This month’s top three games were Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Pokmon: Sun. Battlefield 1 launched in October, and Pokmon: Sun launched at a lower [price] than last November’s console games. As all titles outside of the top three grew a combined 12 percent vs. year ago, it is the top three title grouping that drove the year-on-year decline.”

That might not sound like good news for Activision, EA and Nintendo, despite Pokmon Sun and Moon having the strongest launch in the history of the franchise, but look a little further down the charts and the doom and gloom doesn’t seem quite so bad. In fact, NPD states that spending across the other titles in the charts, which includes Titanfall 2, FIFA 17 and Watch Dogs 2, actually grew by 12 per cent compared with their 2015 counterparts.

The decline can be fully attributed to the top 3 selling games which, combined, sold 43 percent less than the top 3 games from last November," Naji added. "Combined spending across all other titles grew 12 percent in November compared with a year ago.”

Here’s the US software chart for November in full:

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Battlefield 1
  3. Pokmon Sun (physical sales only)
  4. Pokmon Moon (physical sales only)
  5. Titanfall 2
  6. NBA 2K17
  7. Madden NFL 17
  8. Watch Dogs 2
  9. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (physical sales only)
  10. 10. FIFA 17

Another thing to note is that this November saw the launch of several new pieces of hardware and accessories, such as the PS4 Pro and PSVR. The Xbox One S also launched in August, which was shortly followed by the PS4 Slim, and the Nintendo Classic Mini: NES has also been another recent release. Is money simply being spread more thinly across different sectors this year?

Only time will tell, of course, but aggressive Black Friday sales and continued discounting in the run-up to Christmas surely haven’t helped the situation either. With many of October and November’s big releases falling to just 25 in the UK over the last week alone, including Steep and Titanfall 2, these figures aren’t exactly that surprising given the constant yo-yoing of recent software prices, with many consumers potentially holding off knowing there are still further discounts to be found. Hopefully next year we’ll see a steadier market in November with better spaced releases and tighter control over discounted sales prices.

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