After years of discussing the monthly delights and bytes of NPD’s estimates of the gaming industry’s relative health and vitality, your faithful Popzara hosts Cory Galliher and Nathan Evans have decided to invite a stranger into the inner sanctum to talk the finale of one of the best and most exciting years in recent times, December 2017. And who better to talk numbers and analysis than the actual source, NPD’s own games-focused number-cruncher, Mat Piscatella!
It’s everything you expect from these monthly NPD reports, only bigger, better, and more official. Plus, you’ll hear Mat’s thoughts and ruminations on yearly blockbusters, the importance (or lack thereof) of console-exclusives, the continuing failures of (gaming) VR, and how the state of gaming is bigger, better, and healthier than ever. On with the show!
It was great news all-around for, well, practically everyone in December as total sales of new gaming hardware and software were up a cool 10 percent over last year ($3.29 billion over $3 billion). Sales of new game hardware were up a considerable 20 percent over last year ($1.27 billion over $997 million). Last month’s reports saw a flurry of interest around the introduction of Microsoft’s 4K-powered Xbox One X (which helped the Windows company dominate total spending), but that initial success doesn’t seem to have carried over to a post-Black Friday world.
The bulk of this booty, of course, came from anxious consumers grabbing new consoles – primarily Nintendo consoles. Records broke in December, too. NPD reports that, for its first 10 months of availability, the Switch has sold more consoles than any other in history. While this wasn’t enough to, cumulatively, make it the year’s overall best-selling hardware – that would be Sony’s PlayStation 4 – that miss seems more a technicality of timing than anything.
It’s not just the Switch making it rain the green stuff for Nintendo; NPD reports their aging 3DS (which includes the more stereoscoptically-limited 2DS) were the best since December 2014. Never underestimate the power of Pokémon, especially when fans absolutely, positively need to catch ’em all.
Interestingly, sales of new gaming accessories remained pancake-flat from last year ($735 over $734), which seems unusual in a month of otherwise sales crazed purchases. The PlayStation 4’s Dualshock remains the best-selling controller on the market, though one can’t help but wonder how the recent announcement of Nintendo’s cardboard-designed Labo accessory lineup may shakeup the (ahem) more traditional plastic accessory market going forward. One material certainly costs less than the other…
All those shiny new consoles out there need games, games, games! Thankfully, plenty flew off retail shelves (and tunneled through intertubes) to keep hands plenty busy through the New Year. Sales of new console games ticked up a decent 2 percent ($1.24 billion over $1.22 billion), no doubt led by a heroic surge in Activision’s Call of Duty: WW2 (the month’s – and year’s – best-seller), as well as strong attach-rates for Nintendo Switch exclusives (it was a very good year for Mario and Zelda fans). PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the sole Xbox One exclusive, however, ironically making Sony’s otherwise top-selling PS4 hardware the only platform without any exclusives in the Top Twenty charts for the month.
Sales of new PC games weren’t as rosy, as we’ve come to expect, with sales continuing their downward slide by a noticeable 17 percent ($40 million from $48 million). We’re inclined to remind worried PC fans that NPD doesn’t count every retail or online venue, so it’s likely there’s hidden gold somewhere out there for dedicated (and honest) PC gamers not bootlegging everything under the sun.
Special thanks to our guest Mat “Paisano” Piscatella, man of numbers and analysis, for his added insight and explanations to how this whole thing works.
Top Twenty Software: Comfortably Familiar
01. Call of Duty: WWII
02. Star Wars: Battlefront II
03. Super Mario Odyssey
04. NBA 2K18
05. Mario Kart 8
06. Madden NFL 18
07. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
08. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
09. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
10. Grand Theft Auto V
11. FIFA 18
12. Destiny 2
13. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
14. Splatoon 2
15. Need for Speed: Payback
16. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
17. Just Dance 2018
18. The Sims 4
19. Pokémon: Ultra Sun
20. Pokémon: Ultra Moon