The long, hot summer of 2019 is finally at an end, though we’re not quite done checking out what’s the new (and old) hotness heating up the gaming charts at retailers and checkout queues across the nation. For this, of course, our good friends at The NPD Group have their monthly sales estimates, providing the best and most accurate snapshot of the best-selling and most revenue-generating items in the world of gaming.
And this is also where our reliable number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nate Evans step in with their own analysis and colorful commentary in a vain attempt to make sense of it all. So how did the gaming industry fare in August 2019? Not well, as total sales of new gaming hardware and software fell a steep 18 percent from last year (a devilish $666 million from $812 million). So how did things turn so ugly, so quickly?
Let’s start with sales of new gaming hardware, which fell a hard 22 percent from last year ($167 million from $214 million). Leading the pack was, once again, Nintendo’s Switch in the pole position as the best-selling console for the month and year. And just like we’ve seen in recent months, this success was seen in the software tallies (see below) as five of the best-selling games in the Top Ten were exclusive to the Switch.
There’s no breakdown about how Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One console lineup held up but considering both are readying their next-generation successors it’s certain we’ll be hearing lots more in the near-future. Until then, however, it seems that nearly everyone who wanted a current-gen PS4 or Xbox One probably has one (or two) already.
Speaking of being tapped out new gaming accessories didn’t fare much better as sales in this once proud sector fell 6 percent from last year ($242 million from $257 million). A sizable sector including headsets, game controllers, game cards and other miscellaneous accessory goodness, we’ve come to count on this segment to bring up lagging sales elsewhere. However, it appears there is a limit to how many players in the Fortnite world of “free” gaming can spend.
A glut of cheap to mid-range gaming headsets probably didn’t help, either, as there’s more choices than ever for game fans to choose from when deciding how to trash-talk their rivals online.
It’s software that represents the only real “interesting” part of NPD’s August report, sadly. Sales of new console and PC games also fell a worrying 24 percent from last year ($257 million from $341 million), a sizable drop that also comes with a sizable absence of new releases. In fact, only one new release made the Top Ten, Nintendo’s Astral Chain for Switch. As stated above, Nintendo Switch games dominated the Top Ten with five console exclusives – and nine total in the Top Twenty. When nearly half of the entire sales chart is dominated by a single platform, that’s when publishers (and developers) begin to really take note.
Most curious were the dominance of both Microsoft’s blocktacular Minecraft in second (the highest-charting appearance yet for the pixel building phenomenon) and Rockstar’s eternal Grand Theft Auto V in third. Will either game ever disappear from the charts?
There were a few other noticeable appearances on the Top Twenty, namely Paradox Interactive’s Age of Wonders: Planetfall at fifteenth ( franchise-high) and Bandai Namco’s spooky The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan in nineteenth, but otherwise the charts are mostly repeats and a few golden oldies.
Top Twenty Software: Golden Oldies
01. Madden NFL 20
03. Grand Theft Auto V
04. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
05. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
06. Super Mario Maker 2
07. Mario Kart 8
08. Mortal Kombat 11
09. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
10. Astral Chain
11. Marvel’s Spider-Man
12. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
13. Red Dead Redemption II
14. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
15. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
16. Super Mario Party
17. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
18. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
19. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
20. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey