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NPD October 2019 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Duty Calls
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NPD October 2019 Gaming Estimates and Analysis: Duty Calls

Despite a new Call of Duty and strong performances for Switch total sales fell a steep 34 percent from last year.

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As nature continues its transition from Fall to Winter interested consumers, likewise, continue their transition from saving money to spending, especially on shiny new game consoles and games to play on them. While the madness of post-Thanksgiving Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the rest are about to wreak havoc on families everywhere there’s still time left to snatch up a few gems before the rioting starts.

For this we’ve got our own number-crunchers Cory Galliher and Nate Evans here to, once again, talk and share their thoughts on estimates from our friends at The NPD Group’s monthly sales estimates for the gaming industry’s relative stability at physical and digital retailers across the country for October 2019. You thought Halloween was scary? You haven’t seen these numbers. Let’s take a look.

Overall Sales

Total sales of new gaming hardware and software fell a steep 34 percent from last year ($1.03 billion from $1.57 billion). Falling most precipitously were hardware sales, which saw a massive 41 percent decline from last year ($182 million from $307 million), with 2019’s overall year-to-date sales down 10 percent ($9.3 billion) from last year. The only way to spin those numbers as positive is to resort to statistical trickery by using vague comparisons, like the fact that October 2019 was the “third highest charting October” on record, but that still means it trailed both October 2018 (second) and October 2008 (first). Bad is bad, no matter how you spin in.

Gaming Hardware

Leading the hardware charts, yet again, was Nintendo’s Switch – now available in two varieties thanks to the Switch Lite. Aging platforms like Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are selling fewer and fewer units to consumers who likely have them already, meaning those successor platforms can’t come soon enough. While Sony has already named their PlayStation 5 it will be interesting to see what direction Microsoft chooses with their still-unnamed “Project Scarlett” platform – though even a degenerate gambler probably wouldn’t bet it’ll be called Xbox One Two. That would be pretty hilarious (and kind of awesome).

Game Accessories

There was something of a bright spot, relatively speaking, as sales of gaming accessories only dropped a slight 4 percent from last year ($231 million from $277 million). People always need new controllers and headsets, and a few extra game cards couldn’t hurt.

Game Software

Even the introduction of the year’s best-selling game couldn’t stop the downward flow as sales of new gaming software fell an even 22 percent from last year ($620 million from $983 million). To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot not only topped the charts but quickly became the year’s overall best-seller. This is the twelfth consecutive time a Call of Duty game has accomplished this, despite entries from different developers, having different features, excising campaigns (and adding them back in) and spanning different console generations.

In second is Private Division’s The Outer Worlds, largely seen as a spiritual successor to developer Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas. What’s more impressive is that the game was available on day one for both the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms via Microsoft’s Game Pass service. In third is Nintendo’s – coincidentally – third entry in the Luigi’s Mansion franchise with Luigi’s Mansion 3, the highest-charting console exclusive for the month. NPD reports it’s also breaking franchise records already, proving once again that Switch owners love buying Switch games.

The majority of other top ten best-sellers were mostly heavy hitting sports titles, like EA Sports’ Madden NFL 20 in fourth, 2K Games’ NBA 2K20 (just briefly the year’s best-seller, before Modern Warfare stole the show) in fifth, 2K Games’ WWE 2K20 in sixth and EA Sports’ FIFA 20 in eighth. The only other newcomer to the list was Nintendo’s exercise friendly Ring Fit Adventure in tenth.

Speaking of Nintendo, they managed to land six Switch-exclusive titles in the top twenty, though they’re distributed on all ends of the list. At least one non-Nintendo exclusive, Blizzard’s Overwatch, returned to the best-sellers list thanks to its long-awaited (and previously disputed) arrival on Switch as well.

Top Twenty Software: Warfare Rebooted

01. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
02. The Outer Worlds
03. Luigi’s Mansion 3
04. Madden NFL 20
05. NBA 2K20
06. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
07. WWE 2K20
08. FIFA 20
09. Borderlands 3
10. Ring Fit Adventure
11. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
12. Mario Kart 8
13. Minecraft
14. Grand Theft Auto V
15. Mortal Kombat 11
16. Overwatch
17. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
18. Code Vein
19. Red Dead Redemption II
20. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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