January NPD Results:
With no new hit games released last month, January retail video game sales declined steeply in the United States, though the drop was far deeper than analysts expected.
New games sold at retail, across all consoles and computers, generated only $379.6 million between January 1 and 28. That's a 34 percent decline, which is more than double a conensus estimate from video game analysts at Wedbush and Sterne Agee of around 15 percent.
While the lack of new releases versus last year was a significant contributor to the decline (January of 2011 saw debuts that included Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2 and DC Universe Online), NPD analyst Anita Frasier says that consumers also weren't purchasing as many of the major holiday releases in January 2012 as they were in January 2011.
"As shoppers were not drawn to stores due to new launch activity, this potentially impacted additional software purchases made on impulse," she explained.
As expected, the strongest performing software in January was left over from the holiday period. In fact, no January debuts managed to crack the software top ten chart.
Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the best selling game, followed by Ubisoft's Just Dance 3 and Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Software sales across all consoles and portables brought in $355.9 million, a 38 percent decline over January 2011. Retail PC games add another $23.7 million to that total.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 was the top selling console for the sixth straight month. The 270,000 units it sold contributed to a total of $199.5 million in hardware-based revenues, a decline of 38 percent from the prior year.
Accessory sales were down 18 percent from last year at $195.2 million, due to unfavorable comps vs. last year's Kinect surge, according to the NPD.
Toy accessories for Activision's Skylanders represented 22 percent of those sales.
Beyond New Retail
The NPD estimates that video game industry revenues outside of physical retail sales -- including used games, downloads, social game revenue, mobile, rentals and subscriptions -- would add another $350 to $400 million to the $750.6 million that combined retail sales brought in.
That last bit- Beyond New Retail- seems to be reaching for numbers. If NPD starts listing estimates of used game sales in order to make a dreadful month look better, then they better get the publishers off the warpath to kill used game sales. They are justified in using the rest- dloads, social and mobile should be part of the equation to give a better picture. Either way January was a really tough month and continues the downward trend.
Since NPD blamed a lack of AAA releases, let's look at what released in January:
Deadliest Warrior: Ancient Combat (PS3, Xbox 360) - January 10th
Crush 3D (3DS) - January 10th
Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360, PS3) - January 24th
Yep, pretty sparse list. NPD only runs till 1/28, so lets see what counts toward February:
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, Xbox 360) - January 31st
Neverdead (Ps3, Xbox 360) - January 31st
Soul Calibur V (PS3, Xbox 360) - January 31st
February should be better but we'll have to wait for the year over year comparison.