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NPD July 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Follow the Octopath
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NPD July 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Follow the Octopath

Nintendo dominates July as sales of new hardware and software are up 14 percent over last year.

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The summer’s nearly over, but there’s still plenty of action going on across retail (and digital!) shelves across the nation, and there’s no better barometer of what’s making the biggest noise than our friends at The NPD Group’s monthly sales estimates! Once again, we’ve got number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nate Evans ready to yak all about the retail and digital health of the gaming industry for July 2018. That’s a lot of yakking, but they’re more than up to the job.

The prognosis? Not bad! Especially if you’re Nintendo – then it’s pretty great.

Total sales of new gaming hardware and software rose a respectable 14 percent over last year ($749 million over $655 million), with sales of new gaming consoles specifically up a cool 19 percent over last year ($217 million over $182 million). This includes virtually every platform currently occupying shelves, including Nintendo’s Switch, Sony’s PlayStation 4 (both Slim and Pro), Microsoft’s own Xbox One (S and beefier X), as well as non-traditional “consoles” like Nintendo’s retro-favorite NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic hardware.

The month’s best-seller (and biggest money-maker) was Nintendo’s Switch, retaking the crown from its “console” cousin NES Classic Edition – and Sony’s PlayStation 4. This caused a clear and noticeable halo effect across the board, particularly in sales of new software (see below)

But Microsoft’s Xbox One platform drove dollar signs as well with revenue up 50 percent over last year (hello, 4K!). While Sony’s PlayStation 4 remains the best-selling platform of the year, its clear there’s plenty of love – and dollars – to spread around as the industry continues its healthy and positive growth upwards.

July’s single-biggest growth sector was gaming accessories, up a huge 49 percent over last year ($286 million from $193 million), helping cement 2018 as the all-time best-selling year for gaming accessories with an astonishing $2.1 billion so far. It’s all about sales of new gamepads and headsets, of course, with all signs pointing to online interactions led by heavy-hitters like Fortnight leading the charge.

The month’s best-selling controller was, interestingly, Microsoft’s Xbox One S White Controller – which is also readily compatible with Windows 10 machines. Apart from Fortnight, Microsoft has positioned the Xbox platform as the go-to place for massive multiplayer entertainment, especially with services like Game Pass offering day-one cross-platform releases of hits like Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2. It’s all about synergy, folks. That and online trash-talking.

Despite overall revenue dipping 12 percent from last year ($246 million from $280 million) things look even rosier for the Big N on the software side with Nintendo Switch exclusives taking up 50 percent of the Top Ten best-sellers for the month; things look even better when you calculate that many of the multiplatform hits were most likely Switch-dominant as well (that’s our best guess as NPD doesn’t share specific breakdowns any longer). NPD also reports that the Switch was the only platform showing growth in the software sector since last year, with full game sales nearly doubling. Momma Mia!

The month’s best-seller was, surprisingly, Square-Enix’s Octopath Traveler, which is also the first third-party Switch exclusive to occupy the top spot. No other new title made the cut, though Rockstar’s stalwart Grand Theft Auto V was the best non-Nintendo seller for the month no doubt buoyed by the release of GTA V: Premium Online Edition a few months back. Another nice surprise was the return of Activision’s Destiny 2 as fans ready themselves for the long-awaited Forsaken expansion.

Also worth noting – none of the year’s top five best-sellers are on Nintendo’s platform (Mario Kart 8 at 7 and Super Mario Odyssey at 10), showcasing the power of multiplatform releases in one of the most competitive markets in years.

Top Twenty Software: Nintendo’s World

01. Octopath Traveler
02. Grand Theft Auto V
03. Mario Kart 8
04. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
05. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
06. Far Cry 5
07. Super Mario Odyssey
08. The Crew 2
09. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
10. Mario Tennis Aces
11. FIFA 18
12. Lego Incredibles
13. God of War (2018)
14. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
15. NBA 2K18
16. Call of Duty: WWII
17. Detroit: Become Human
18. MLB 18: The Show
19. Minecraft
20. Destiny 2