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NPD September 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Spider-Man Swings to Victory
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NPD September 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Spider-Man Swings to Victory

Sales of new hardware and software were up a slight 7 percent – with Sony’s webslinger leading the way.

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September is typically an unusual month for those interested in watching how the videogame industry performs as it represents the last chance for both blockbuster and quirky titles to slip in under the radar before the bloodbath of the “holiday season” hits its stride. Because of this, fans have come to expect a nice chunk of diverse games to whet their interactive whistles, which in turn helps make those shopping lists to come much easier to draft.

Thankfully, we’ve got friends in high places, namely the NPD Group and their monthly estimates that give curious types a glimpse at what’s been selling – and what hasn’t. For this are trustworthy editors Cory Galliher and Nathan Evans return to talk, discuss and babble about what managed to move (and didn’t) at US retailers and digital storefronts in September 2018. The verdict for the month: a mixed bag.

Total sales of new gaming hardware and software ticked up a sweet 7 percent over last year ($1.376 billion over $1.285 billion), though you can’t thank shiny new game consoles for the surge. Sales of new game consoles fell a slightly 3 percent from last year ($306 million from $316 million). We can’t help but wonder if the glut of higher-priced (read: enhanced) hardware like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X started to outpace their cheaper, yet still completely capable alternatives?

Sony’s PlayStation 4 was the best-selling platform for the month, for reasons that will become obvious, with the PS4 Slim the month’s single best-selling SKU. NPD reports that Microsoft’s Xbox One platform is also selling well, or generating more revenue than last year, with the Xbox One X singled out as the best-seller from the lineup. There’s no real indication that Nintendo’s Switch, typically a trailblazer, moved in one direction or another this month, though a string of Switch-exclusives hovering near the bottom of the software charts indicates a slight dip downward. Sales of plug ‘n play “consoles” like the NES Classic and SNES Classic, however, were as strong as ever. #RetroLove

Nearly all the month’s gains were, once again, in sales of gaming accessories, which soared a gigantic 43 percent over last year ($323 million over $225 million) – the highest ever tracked by NPD. This is good news, of course, and all signs point to sales of game currency cards and headsets as the real drivers of the surge; no real surprise as interest in massive online multiplayer games like Fortnite, PUBG, as well as the various GTA4, COD and other acronym-friendly blockbusters practically require both digital cash and a solid headset to trash-talk your opponents.

In the realm of new gaming software, it’s both an impressive and disappointing showing for many titles you’d think would have placed higher. Topping the charts is the PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man, which also becomes the fastest-selling game in the console’s history, besting previous champ God of War. It’s already the third best-selling game of the year and should hold a spot for months to come. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was in third place, despite only being available for two days, indicating huge demand for the latest stealth-and-kill simulator.

On a side note, Odyssey is also the marquee game on Google’s Project Stream, which we’ve covered in extensive detail elsewhere on the site (which you should definitely read!).

Other highlights include Square Enix’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider at fifth, accompanied by a huge hype train of ways to play Lara Croft’s latest adventure on everything from stock Xbox One to bleeding-edge GPUs like the GeForce RTX 2080 cards. Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4 was the Xbox One’s only exclusive at seventh, once again there could be something to this crazy Game Pass idea. Not so rosy were the rather disappointing showings for Activisions’ Destiny 2, which returned to the charts with the arrival of latest expansion pack Forsaken, as well as Square Enix’s Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age just missing the Top Ten, coming in just under the radar at eleventh.

Top Twenty Software: Spider Sense Tingling!

01. Marvel’s Spider-Man
02. NBA 2K19
03. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
04. FIFA 19
05. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
06. Madden NFL 19
07. Forza Horizon 4
08. Destiny 2
09. Super Mario Party
10. NHL 19
11. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
12. WWE 2K19
13. Grand Theft Auto V
14. Mario Kart 8
15. Naruto To Boruto: Shinobi Striker
16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
17. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
18. Super Mario Odyssey
19. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
20. Minecraft