Chronologically, the summer may be coming to an end, but in the world of analyzing videogame sales it’s still mid-summer all the way! For this very purpose who better to have at the ready than our trusty number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nate Evans ready and willing to dive into the NPD reports for July 2019, a month so completely dominated by one company that we’re tempted to give those gamers not completely smitten by all-things Nintendo a fighting chance to opt-out now while they still can. You’ve been warned. Momma mia!
Total sales of new gaming hardware and software was statistically flat from last year ($762 million from $759 million). But it’s how those two elements break down where things get a little interesting. Sales of new gaming hardware fell a distressing 22 percent from last year ($169 million from $217 million), once again led by Nintendo’s Switch leading the charge as the month’s best-selling console platform, a fact that will become incredibly important when you see the software charts. The Switch remains the year’s best-selling hardware as well, which only draws more attention to the aging alternatives from Sony and Microsoft.
It appears we may have reached the near-saturation point for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One platforms, which isn’t entirely surprising as both are approaching their sixth year of existence. Both Sony and Microsoft have “soft announced” their successors already, though we’ll have to wait a little longer to see how these bigger, beefier hardware upgrades play out in the future.
Even Nintendo is getting in on the mid-cycle upgrade parade (of sorts) with their mobile-only Switch Lite variant coming in September. The real question is whether NPD, i.e. our good friend Mat Piscatella, will consider this lighter and dockless Switch more a “home” console than an entirely portable one.
Speaking of saturation, we may also have a similar scenario with sales of new gaming accessories and game cards as sales fell a noticeable 12 percent from last year ($254 million from $289 million). For the longest time this was the segment that provided our only real “look” at what the rest of the NPD reports couldn’t show, i.e. the growth of “free” battle royale shooters like Fortnite, Apex Legends and PUBG. All those new players need new headsets, controllers and more as trash-talking is more art than science
In a bit of good news, great news really, sales of new gaming software (re: games!) saw a whopping 34 percent increase over last year ($340 million over $253 million), a gain that really completes the tale of what’s moving and shaking the retail market at the moment. Once again, it’s Nintendo’s Switch leading the path to golden coins and massive profits; the platform saw six exclusive titles in the top ten alone, a feat we can’t recall ever seeing before.
The best-selling game for July 2019 was EA Sports’ Madden 20, the rare non-exclusive blockbusters still not available for Nintendo’s platform, and the 20th consecutive time the football franchise has debuted on top. Interestingly, NPD reports these numbers don’t include copies of the game downloaded via EA’s paid Origin Access Premier subscriber service, just one of many Netflix-style gaming distribution services that will, like Microsoft’s Game Pass, continue to upend both expectations and easy-analysis like the one you’re reading/listening to now.
But the rest of the top ten is, basically, the Nintendo show. Led by Fire Emblem: Three Houses making its franchise-best debut, Switch games dominated like no other platform has, well, ever. Last month’s best-seller Super Mario Maker 2 drops to third while (not a movie tie-in) Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order debuted in fourth place. Warner Bros’ Mortal Kombat 11, still the year’s overall best-seller, remains a contender in eighth place – becoming the second best-selling entry in the franchise and also the fifth best-selling fighting game of all-time. Prying eyes would love to know how its availability on the Switch helped affected those sales, but
Top Ten Software: Touchdown!
01. Madden NFL 20
02. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
03. Super Mario Maker 2
04. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
06. Grand Theft Auto V
07. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
08. Mortal Kombat 11
09. Mario Kart 8
10. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
11. Marvel’s Spider-Man
12. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
13. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
14. Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled
15. Red Dead Redemption II
16. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
17. MLB 19: The Show
18. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
19. NBA 2K19
20. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey