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NPD December 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Nintendo Smash
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NPD December 2018 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Nintendo Smash

Nintendo dominated both December and 2018 thanks to a perfect combo of console and game; includes full list of 2018’s best-sellers.

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Here it is, folks, the one you’ve been waiting for: the final gabfest of sales estimates and analysis of our friends at NPD’s monthly barometer of videogame success at retail and digital shelves. For this, we’ve got a super-sized episode of the month – and year’s – overall best-sellers, which include a few surprises and disappointments for the numerically faithful.

Our number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nathan Evans return, faithful as ever, to break all the numbers into easily digestible bits, pre-chewing the data so you don’t have to. Plus, listen for many, many blatant shout-outs to our good friend – and occasional guest on this very podcast – Mat Piscatella, the person responsible for generating these magic numbers in the first place. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed!

Despite being one of the most eagerly anticipated (for number-crunchers, anyway) months in years, total sales of new gaming hardware and software only managed a slight 2 percent uptick over last year ($3.415 billion over $3.338 billion). Despite the news of December being a record-breaking month (it totally was, just not for everyone), what might have led to the slight decrease?

It didn’t come from new gaming hardware, despite a huge resurgence for Nintendo and surprise second-place showing for Microsoft’s Xbox One family of consoles. as sales dipped a distressing 8 percent from last year ($1.168 billion from $1.272 billion). In third place is Sony’s PlayStation 4, a noticeable drop from its usually chart-topping self.

But December was really Nintendo’s month, in every way that mattered. Not only did their Switch console break records for generating the most revenue for the month of December in nearly ten years (you’d have to go back to December 2009 to find a similar achievement, which just happened to be another Nintendo hardware with the original Wii), but it also snuck past Sony’s PS4 to become the year’s best-selling platform, in both total sales and revenue. It’s success, you might say, is simply smashing.

A huge bright spot in spending continues to be sales of gaming accessories and game cards, which saw a sweet uptick of 29 percent over last year ($1.01 billion from $785 million). Once again, we can thank the rise of massively-multiplayer battle royale blockbusters (hello, Fortnite!) for the massive spike in gaming headsets and currency cards, though gamepads and controllers are also hot, with Nintendo’s Switch Pro Controller the month’s best-seller.

Sales of gaming software – the real reason we’re even here – actually fell a slight 3 percent from last year ($1.237 billion from $1.281 billion). One game that did its best to stem the tide, though, was also the month’s best-seller – and quickly becoming one of the 2018’s best-selling as well: Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, breaking nearly every record along the way. It’s not just the fastest-selling game in the Smash Bros franchise, but the fastest-selling (and revenue-generating) console exclusive ever, besting previous champ Halo: Reach.

But Smash Bros. Ultimate was just the tip of the mountain that Nintendo easily scaled; the publisher was the year’s best-seller overall, with 7 games in the year’s Top Twenty all Nintendo Switch exclusives. This is the best the company has performed since the glory days of the original Wii, which surely helps make the relative mistakes of the Wii U console painful lessons learned well.

In other non-Nintendo news Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the month’s second best-seller, was actually bested by Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption II for the title of year’s overall best-seller. Still, with so many heavy hitters tearing up the charts, all those new gaming consoles should have plenty of games from last year while they wait for whatever 2019 manages to serve up. Not a bad deal, no matter how you look at it.

Top Twenty Software: Nintendo Power

01. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
02. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
03. Red Dead Redemption II
04. Battlefield V
05. NBA 2K19
06. Mario Kart 8
07. Madden NFL 19
08. Super Mario Party
09. Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu
10. Marvel’s Spider-Man
11. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
12. Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee
13. Super Mario Odyssey
14. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
15. Just Cause 4
16. FIFA 19
17. Grand Theft Auto V
18. Minecraft
19. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
20. Fallout 76

Top Twenty Best-Selling Games of 2018

01. Red Dead Redemption II
02. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
03. NBA 2K19
04. Madden NFL 19
05. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
06. Marvel’s Spider-Man
07. Far Cry 5
08. God of War 2018
09. Monster Hunter: World
10. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
11. Grand Theft Auto V
12. Mario Kart 8
13. FIFA 19
14. Battlefield V
15. Super Mario Odyssey
16. Call of Duty: WWII
17. Dragon Ball: Fighterz
18. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
19. Super Mario Party
20. Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu

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