The madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, thank goodness, which means the clean up crew has arrived to help made sense of the aftermath. And by aftermath we’re talking snapshots of the gaming industry’s health at both physical and digital retail shelves across the United States. Just in time to help foster some much-needed holiday cheer and brand awareness for November 2019. This means estimates from our friends at The NPD Group and colorful analysis by our very own number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nathan Evans.
It’s all Santa, no Scrooge here, folks. Well, one look at these numbers and it’s hard not to utter a few “bah, humbugs” around that wilting Charlie Brown Christmas tree. So gather around, listen carefully, and remember to BYOE (bring your own eggnog).
Total sales of new gaming hardware and software fell a steep 19 percent from last year ($2.251 billion from $2.783 billion). That’s not great, and things don’t get much rosier when looking at that tallies’ individual components, either. Sales of gaming hardware fell an even harder 26 percent from last year ($891 million from $1.206 billion), continuing the downward trend we’ve seen as last-generation platforms like Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles cede relevance – and sales glory – to upstarts like Nintendo’s Switch and ready their much anticipated successors next year.
On the plus side, if you’ve been holding out on joining the current-generation of gaming you’re bound to find great deals on every iteration of PlayStation, Xbox and Switch consoles if you know where to look. There’s never been a better time to pick up that PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X or Switch Lite – just keep your eyes out for game-packed bundles and it’ll be a very Merry Christmas, indeed!
Even sales of new gaming accessories like gamepads, game cards, gaming headsets, etc., couldn’t stem the slippery slope downward, falling 14 percent from last year ($403 million from $505 million). We can only point to oversaturation of “free” online multiplayer games and happiness with existing accessories for this decline, or how one major player (Sony) no longer sells full game cards for their games.
Either way, enthusiast games should be happy to learn that Microsoft’s pricey Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 was the month’s total-dollar winner accessory for the month while Sony’s considerably more affordable PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black remains the year’s overall best-seller.
Sales of new gaming software (i.e. the games!) fared slightly better, but just slightly. Total sales fell also saw a 14 percent from last year ($926 million from $1.07 billion), a tepid number on the surface, but one filled with numerical caveats worth mentioning.
While Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot once again claimed the top spot for the month (and overall year), the Force is strong with EA’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which debuted in second and was the second-fastest selling game in the franchise. Sony’s wildly anticipated Hideo Kojima-made Death Stranding may seem to have debuted low in seventh place, but it’s also the highest-charting PS4 exclusive and a (relatively) new intellectual property. EA notched another victory with the return of the Need for Speed franchise at ninth place with Need for Speed Heat.
Things get a little more interesting, and frustrating, for Nintendo on this month’s list. The return of the Pokémon franchise made waves – multiple waves – with not one, but THREE different slots in the upper echelon of the top five. Switch-exclusive Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield combinations notched third, fourth, and fifth place rankings for November, becoming the fastest-selling game in the franchise’s long history. While NPD ranks individual SKUs separately, splitting up what is (in all honesty) practically the same game disadvantages other games that might’ve featured more prominently on the list.
Also, had NPD combined all three entries into a single entry, Pokémon Sword and Shield would have been the month’s second best-seller. We’re pretty sure that Nintendo isn’t losing any sleep over this, especially since their own Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (coming in seventieth) has officially become the best-selling fighting game in US history. Say what you will about its “arcade” credentials, but what other fighting game can boast a roster that includes Ryu, Ken, Terry Bogard and Pac-Man?