NPD Analysis

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Somebody let Blair Herter into the studio this week, and what resulted was the newest episode of Feedback. Adam, Patrick and I tried to make the best of it, choosing to focus instead on the week's most notable news, and our Game of the Week: Double Fine's Brutal Legend. (Just kidding, Blair was highly tolerable!)

G4tv.com's Feedback -- Brutal Legend Edition »

We also headbang to the following...

  • The September NPDs are here, which means its time to see if the PS3's price drop had any significant effect. (Spoiler: It did.)
  • America has spoken: The Beatles are still pretty awesome. Or at least still awesome enough to edge out Guitar Hero 5.
  • People bought Halo 3: ODST. No way! I know, right!?
  • EA's Peter Moore believes that the industry will soon be entirely digital, with Microsoft leading the way. He also thinks that some of us will be having grandchildren in 10 years, which is a far more dubious claim.
  • There are rumors that A Crack in Time might be the last Ratchet & Clank game. If you watch carefully, you can see the exact moment Adam's heart breaks. But is it really possible?
  • Is Brutal Legend better or worse off for having elements of real-time strategy? And is the game's charm and humor enough to keep us going?
  • At one point, we may have asked the question "How does Tim Schafer feel about Tim Schafer?" If we didn't, we got pretty close.
  • Reader duberi wonders why we review games the way we do, and we get a little defensive. Sorry about that.
  • Plus Patrick's 10-day forecast for the greater Los Angeles area (95% chance of being better than where you are).

Feedback: Filling up on breadsticks since 2009. Honor the memory of Farrah Fawcett and subscribe:

Video: iTunes | XML   |   Audio: iTunes | XML

Halo 3: ODST PAX 2009 Brian Jarrard Interview

Microsoft and Bungie Studios didn't give the release of Halo 3: ODST the same blockbuster treatment as Halo 3, but that didn't stop the Halo faithful from coming out in big numbers for the latest fight against the Covenant. September 2009 sales numbers from the NPD Group report Halo 3: ODST sold 1.52 million copies, with its closest competitor, Wii Sports Resort, more than a million behind.

The complete list:

  1. 360 Halo 3: ODST, Microsoft, 1,520,000
  2. Wii Wii Sports Resort w/ Motion Plus, Nintendo of America, 442,900
  3. 360 Madden NFL 2010, Electronic Arts, 289,600
  4. DS Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Nintendo of America, 258,100
  5. 360 The Beatles: Rock Band, MTV Games, 254,000
  6. PS3 Madden NFL 2010, Electronic Arts, 246,500
  7. 360 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Activision Blizzard, 236,000
  8. PS3 Batman: Arkham Asylum, Square Enix, 212,500
  9. 360 Guitar Hero 5, Activision Blizzard, 210,800
  10. Wii The Beatles: Rock Band, MTV Games, 208,600

Who expected Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story to chart so high? Encouraging numbers, given Nintendo's difficuly in pushing more traditional games on both the DS and Wii, but it's certainly a testament to the continued power of the Mario franchise and should give Nintendo solid confidence for New Super Mario Bros. Wii when it launches next month. That game's going to be a monster.

MTV Games must be happy, as The Beatles: Rock Band appears to have outsold Guitar Hero 5. It was good news elsewhere, too, especially for Square Enix, who saw Batman: Arkham Asylum chart for the second month in a row, and Electronic Arts.

"Madden NFL 10 made up some ground this month," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier in a press release. "Although when launched in August the game sold 19% fewer units than its predecessor a year prior, with a second month of sales in, that deficit has been reduced to 13%, which bodes very well for the title through the holiday season."

How many of these games did you pick up in September?

PlayStation 3 PS3 Slim

The combination of a price cut and PlayStation 3 Slim proved a profitable move for Sony in September, as the month's numbers from the NPD Group were released this afternoon. Sony sold 491,800 units in September, besting Nintendo by just under 30,000 machines and nicely outpacing Xbox 360.

Note: September's tracking period was five weeks, compared to August's four weeks.

  • Nintendo DS: 524,200 (down from 552,900)
  • Wii: 462,800 (up from 277,400)
  • Xbox 360: 352,6000 (up from 215,400)
  • PlayStation 3: 491,800 (up from 212,000)
  • PSP: 146,000 (up from 140,300)
  • PlayStation 2: 146,000 (up from 105,900)

"All three console manufacturers enjoyed the impact of lower prices on unit sales," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier, "as the PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360 realized an increase over August of 87%, 33%, and 31% respectively, on an average sales per week basis."

PlayStation 3 held up strong against its console brethren (even with Nintendo nipping at its heels), but Nintendo DS still outpaced everyone else, pushing 524,200 units during the month of September. A sales spike was expected for nearly all platforms as a result of the price adjustments, but whether those spikes hold for September's winners remains to be seen.

Plus, next month is PSP go.

NPD Group Delays September 2009 Sales Data Until Next MondayThe monthly discussion of the video games industry's sales numbers will have to wait a few more days, as the NPD Group has just released a statement that September's numbers won't be released until Monday. The NPD Group said "last minute processing requirements" are the reason for the unexpected scheduling change, but promised September's sales data would be released on Monday evening at 3:30 PM PST.

For now, let's make up some numbers!

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We were live at Electronic Art's Tokyo Showcase event in Japan earlier today (in Tokyo time), where the publisher kicked off by showing its DS-exclusive ninja game for the DS called Tsumuji (which translates to whirlwind). It's in development at EA Japan. l heard about this game earlier this year but this is the first time EA's shown anything. The gameplay is stylus-based and has you learning to become a ninja. The art is very relaxed, clearly aimed at children. Rex Ishibashi, general manager of EA Japan, briefly discussed Tsumuji before transitioning to FIFA 10.

FIFA 10 Basic Attacking Trailer »

Executive producer Kaz Makita took the stage to discuss the latest edition of the soccer series. Makita said there were more than 375 million games played online in the past year, which has given them plenty of opportunities to study the way gamers are reacting to the series and incorporate updates into the next game. Makita observed that people wanted a practice arena, continuous play and quick free kicks, both of which are in FIFA 10. He acknowledged several frustrations players had with FIFA 09, which he hopes will not be an issue in FIFA 10. The theme of FIFA 10 was "refining fundamentals." It appears Makita really has listened to players, as lists fixes and tweaks one-by-one and with surprising specificity. The game's demo was recently released, which Makita said has already created "great buzz" with users. Have you played it?

Read More »


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Analysis: August 2009 Software Sales -- Madden Pushes Near 2M, Batman Soars

You'll notice that Wii Sports Resort isn't in the headline. Of course Nintendo's follow-up to Wii Sports did well in August, based on the numbers released by the NPD Group today. It wasn't the number-one selling game, however, as that spot went to Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 2010. All told, Madden NFL 2010 was August's big winner, selling 1.9 million copies across all platforms.

The complete top 10 in software sales for August 2009:

1. 360 Madden NFL 2010, Electronic Arts, 928,000
2. Wii Wii Sports Resort w/ Wii Motion Plus, Nintendo of America, 754,000
3. PS3 Madden NFL 2010, Electronic Arts, 665,000
4. 360 Batman: Arkham Asylum, Square Enix, 303,000
5. PS3 Batman: Arkham Asylum, Square Enix, 290,000
6. PS2 Madden NFL 2010, Electronic Arts, 160,000
7. PSP Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Square Enix, 130,000
8. Wii Wii Fit, Nintendo of America, 128,000
9. Wii Mario Kart w/ Wheel, Nintendo of America, 120,000
10. DS Fossil Fighters, Nintendo of America, 92,000

Of worthy note, the NPD Group points out PlayStation 3 was the only piece of hardware to experience a year-over-year increase in software sales, as evidenced by the healthy numbers for both Madden NFL 2010 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. In Batman's case, the PlayStation 3 version came within just 13,000 units of the Xbox 360 version. Did the heavily promoted exclusive Joker downloadable content have something to do with that? Let me know if it swayed you.

In other good Sony news, Dissidia: Final Fantasy made an appearance in the top ten. It remains to be seen if such momentum can be rolled into non-Final Fantasy or God of War games on PSP. If you like numbers, though, there's a problem. If PSP's digital distribution really takes off on PSP Go, we'll lose accurate sales numbers. Those are not included in NPD Group's charts.

A major shakeup coming next month is the combined power of Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band. NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier addressed what this could mean for the industry in the coming weeks, given downbeat expectations for music games.

"With the introduction of Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 in September, a lot of folks have inquired about the performance of these titles and the music/dance genre," said Frazier. "While sales of this genre are down 46% year-to-date, unit sales are down much less because lower prices are playing into the dollar sales decline. It's still the third best-selling genre for the year after General Action and Multiple/Other Sports (where Wii Fit resides)."

Given how much love there's been for Batman, it's nice to see the game rewarded with solid sales, too. Which of these games have you picked up?

Analysis: August 2009 Hardware Sales -- Price Cuts Help, But Wii Still On Top

The world's been demanding price cuts from Microsoft and Sony this year, but it wasn't until nearly the end of August that such changes were announced. Price cuts for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have resulted in positive sales for both platforms, according to the August 2009 numbers released today by the NPD Group, but it wasn't enough to topple Nintendo's ever-selling Wii.

Here are the hardware numbers for August 2009:

  • Nintendo DS: 552,900 (up from 538,900)
  • Wii: 277,400 (up from 252,500)
  • Xbox 360: 215,400 (up from 202,900)
  • PlayStation 3: 210,000 (up from 121,800)
  • PSP: 140,3000 (up from 122,800)
  • PlayStation 2: 105,900 (down from 108,000)

The full effects of both Microsoft and Sony's price adjustments won't be felt until September has played out and each company's marketing materials spread the news. But both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- the former especially, helped by a new look for the hardware -- showed healthy month-over-month growth. Each machine seems poised to do well as the industry heads to Christmas.

"All hardware systems with the exception of the PS2 realized an increase in unit sales over July. The PS3 captured the greatest increase month-over-month with unit sales boosted by 72% over July levels," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier alongside the numbers. "There is a lot of speculation about Wii and whether Nintendo will take a price cut as sales comps to last year show declines. I do think it's interesting to note that the Wii is still selling at levels comparable to what the PS2 was doing at about this point in its lifecycle."

Frazier also noted that despite healthier hardware numbers, the overall industry continued its month-over-month sales decline -- the sixth month in a row. The rest of the year will have to show substantial growth to make up for the rest of the year's declines.

Do you hear that, Modern Warfare 2?

[image credit: flickr / DavidDMuir]

The Console Wars: Rise of the Machines

Sweet. I got to make a Flo Rida reference in an NPD article (one of my goals for 2009). NPD Group has released its July 2009 sales data for the major consoles. While July is a typically slow month for gaming, especially on the hardware front, the sales figures are down for everyone. Here are the digits, with last month's numbers in parenthesis:

  • Nintendo DS: 538,900 (down from 766,500)
  • Nintendo Wii: 252,500 (down from 361,700)
  • Xbox 360: 202,900 (down from 240,600)
  • PlayStation Portable: 122,800 (down from 163,500)
  • PlayStation 3: 121,800 (down from 164,700)
  • PlayStation 2: 108,000 (down from 152,700)

NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier noted, "The U.S. video games industry declined for the fifth consecutive month, bringing year-to-date sales to $8.16 billion, down 14% from the same time period last year. Hardware sales have slowed considerably on nearly every platform. The Xbox 360 is the only console system showing a unit sales increase year-to-date, while the NDS has the highest sales of all hardware platforms both for the month, and year-to-date."

With few "system selling" games released in July and August, the hardware numbers won't turn around any time soon. As Patrick noted in his July 2009 software analysis, Wii Sports Resort is selling very well, but it's not pushing any hardware (yet). While Madden 10 is sure to sell at a hot clip in August, is it a system seller this far into a generation? I don't think so. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony count on big sales during the last four months of the year. This year it will be banking on them more than usual.

I'm sure you have plenty of thoughts on July's hardware numbers. So have at it! 

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Analysis: July 2009 Software Sales -- Wii Sports Resort Dominates Everyone

Big surprise, everyone! The NPD Group has dropped July 2009 sales and Wii Sports Resort, the long awaited sequel to the pack-in game that ultimately sold everyone on the concept of the Wii, quickly moved more units than anybody else. The game dropped at the end of last month but Nintendo pushed 508,200 copies of Wii Sports Resort.

Here's the top ten for June 2009:

  1. Wii Wii Sports Resort, Nintendo of America, 508.2K
  2. 360 NCAA Football 10, Electronic Arts, 376.5K
  3. PS3 NCAA Football 10, Electronic Arts, 237.4K
  4. Wii Wii Fit w/ Balance Board, Nintendo of America, 164.3K
  5. Wii Mario Kart w/ Wheel, Nintendo of America, 156.6K
  6. DS Mario Kart DS, Nintendo of America, 132.2K
  7. DS Pokemon Platinum Version, Nintendo of America, 116.4K
  8. 360 Fight Night Round 4, Electronic Arts, 116.4K
  9. DS New Super Mario Bros., Nintendo of America, 101.8K
  10. Wii EA Sports Active Bundle, Electronic Arts, 96.8K

It was a Nintendo month. Between new releases like Wii Sports Resort, traditional Nintendo software mainstays like Wii Fit and evergreen Nintendo releases that just won't leave the software charts like Mario Kart DS, in a year where the industry is down across the board, Nintendo is clearly producing the kind of content people are looking for, even when they're spending less.

Everyone else in the industry, however, suffered.

"While year-to-date results are weak," said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier alongside July 2009's data, "there are some big titles set to be released over the next several months, including Madden this month, which should help spur sales. The worst comps should be behind us, and looking beyond August we have The Beatles: Rock Band, Halo 3: ODST, and of course, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to look forward to."

September will be a telling month, with both The Beatles: Rock Band and Halo 3: ODST dropping. Any predictions from TheFeed readers?

Tags: NPD Analysis

The excellent people at Gamasutra received some great information from NPD Group -- the top five console titles of 2009 by platform. The numbers do not include limited edition or collector's edition versions of the games. Let's take a look at the best-selling titles of 2009, followed by some commentary.

NPD Group's Top Five Games Of 2009 By Platform, Year-To-Date Sony PlayStation 3

Sony's top three was pretty predictable, but slots four and five were a bit surprising. In a very short amount of time, THQ's UFC: Undisputed has put the market in a kimura arm lock. I'm pretty surprised that Sony's baseball game did so well -- it's a good game, but I didn't think baseball titles were that popular. As a baseball fan, this makes me happy. What make me sad is that inFamous didn't crack the list. I'm a big fan of Sucker Punch and was hoping its latest game would sell like crazy. Hopefully the second half of 2009 will be kind to inFamous.

For the top five Wii and Xbox 360 games of 2009, hit the break (please)!

Read More »

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Analysis: June 2009 Software Sales -- Prototype Soars, But Where's Wii Play?!

If you were looking forward to a sequel to Prototype, there's good news; Activision's open-world, dark hero adventure had a strong debut for a new franchise. Prototype sold more on Xbox 360 than PlayStation 3, but for a good reason, as Sony's demographically similar inFamous managed to stay in the sales top ten as a platform exclusive.

For your analysis, courtesy of The NPD Group:

  1. 360 Prototype, Activision, 419.9K
  2. 360 UFC 2009: Undisputed, THQ, 338.3K
  3. Wii EA Sports Active Bundle, Electronic Arts, 289.1K
  4. Wii Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, Electronic Arts, 272.4K
  5. Wii Wii Fit, Nintendo of America, 271.6K
  6. 360 Fight Night Round 4, Electronic Arts, 260.8K
  7. PS3 Fight Night Round 4, Electronic Arts, 210.3K
  8. Wii Mario Kart Wii w/ wheel, Nintendo of America, 202.1K
  9. 360 Red Faction: Guerrilla, THQ, 199.4K
  10. PS3 inFamous, Sony, 192.7K

The NPD Group told me Prototype sold 180,000 copies on PlayStation 3 -- just 12,000 units behind inFamous on the same platform. In total, Prototype sold more than 600,000 copies in June. THQ must also be pleased, as UFC 2009: Undisputed managed to hold onto a top spot for another month, though the PlayStation 3 version fell off the sales top ten. Red Faction: Guerrilla sold a little less than I expected, given THQ's comments to me last month.

"The buzz is great," said THQ CEO Brian Farrell in a phone interview. "We've been pleased with the initial results -- obviously, it's only been a couple of weeks, but what we've seen in the marketplace, both here and in Europe and Asia, we've been very pleased so far. I've been in this business game long enough to know that an 85-rated game [according to Metacritic] will have pretty long legs."

The biggest news? Wii Play has fallen out of the top ten. According to The NPD Group, that's the first time Wii Play hasn't been in the top ten for the last 29 months.

My mind just exploded, melted and ate itself.


Analysis: June 2009 NPD Hardware Sales -- Sales Up From May, Down Year-Over-Year

It's a mixture of good and bad news for hardware sales in the video games industry, according to the latest data released by the stats trackers at the NPD Group. June 2009 sales numbers have been released; across the board, all platforms saw a monthly hardware sales increase over May, but year-over-year, June 2009 was a tough one, the largest year-over-year decline since September 2000.

The numbers, TheFeed readers:

  • Nintendo DS: 766,500 (up from 633,500)
  • Nintendo Wii: 361,700 (up from 289,500)
  • Xbox 360: 240,600 (up from 175,000)
  • PlayStation 3: 164,700 (up from 131,000)
  • PlayStation 2: 152,700 (up from 117,000)
  • PSP: 163,500 (up from 100,400)

Keep in mind: June is a five-week tracking period, compared to May's four weeks os tracked sales. There was more time for each hardware system to sell during this tracking period, which accents for some of the sales increase we're seeing here.

"This is one of the first months where I think the impact of the economy is clearly reflected in the sales numbers," commented NPD analyst Anita Frazier alongside the release of the numbers. "While the aggregate of content may not be as strong as what we saw in the first half of last year, and while the consumer base willing to spend dollars on hardware at the current price points may be thinning, the size of the decliine could also point to consumers deferring limited discretionary spending until a big event (must-have new title, hardware price cut) compels them to spend."

Frazier's analysis matches the mood of the economy. Prices are dropping for entertainment objects, often considered a luxury, across the board. Consumers may be waiting until companies announce holiday-related and price adjustments before picking up a new console. Such an attitude is reflected in the software sales, as well; Prototype selling more than 600,000 copies in its first month bodes well for a new franchise, but signals a weakened industry when its biggest game tops at 600,000.

And with that, let the commenting begin.

It's that time of the month -- time for NPD Group's console sales figures for May 2009! As some of you know, the business is entering a "slow" period. Hardware sales have been declining sharply for the last two months. Let's see if May's numbers continued the trend. Here are the consoles sales figure for May, with last month's numbers in parenthesis.

  • Nintendo DS: 633,500 (down from 1,040,000)
  • Nintendo Wii: 289,500 (down from 340,000)
  • Xbox 360: 175,000 (same as last month)
  • PlayStation 3: 131,000 (up from 127,000)
  • PlayStation 2: 117,000 (down from 172,000)
  • PlayStation Portable: 100,400 (down from 116,000)

The sharp drop in DS sales isn't a surprise. Remember, the DSi launched in April and a lot of gamers rushed out to get the new system. Wii sales continue to decline, but with a cheaper price and more mainstream appeal than the competition, Nintendo's home system continues to best the competition.

The sharp drop in PlayStation 2 sales can also be chalked up to the PS2 price cut being "old". Surprisingly, Sony sold more PS3s in May than it did in April. Considering that May is a traditionally slow shopping month and economic conditions are still dire, an increase is impressive. Perhaps software had something to do it with (thankfully, Klepek is on the case for NPD software figures!); Sony did get a lot of press in May from its press events and Infamous had fantastic word of mouth. As much as I adore the guys and gals at Sucker Punch, I don't think Infamous is a system seller. The drop in PSP sales is more in line with the typical "summer slump".

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THQ has a new hit on their hands. The company correctly gambled on the growing popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship, as UFC 2009: Undisputed was the biggest selling game this past May, according to sales data released by the NPD Group today. UFC 2009: Undisputed, released May 19, sold a solid 1.01 million copies (679,600 on Xbox 360, 334,400 on PlayStation 3) by the time May finished out.

The industry as a whole, however, was down (check out Raymond Padilla's look at how this affects hardware) . "The video games industry continues to struggle with difficult comparisons to last year," commented NPD anaylst Anita Frazier in the NPD release. "This is the first month that industry sales have dipped below $1B since August 2007.  May is typically one of the lowest revenue-generating months in any given year for the industry in general."

1. 360 UFC 2009: Undisputed, THQ, 679K
2. Wii Wii Fit w/ balance board, Nintendo, 352K
3. Wii EA Sports Active bundle, Electronic Arts, 345K
4. PS3 UFC 2009: Undisputed, THQ, 334K
5. PS3 inFamous, Sony, 175K

The biggest surprises? Punch-Out!! debuted at the number eight spot, selling just 156,900 copies after its May 18 release date. The other major exclusive this month, the PlayStation 3-only inFamous, performed better, moving 175,900 copies, despite being released at the very end of the month, May 26. It'll be interesting to see how Prototype, Activision's similar-looking open-world hero game, affects its sales.

As for the rest of the sales...

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<p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Nintendo Wii" src="http://files.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/144334_S/Nintendo-Wii.jpg" /></p> <p>NPD&nbsp;time! As always, I'll be looking at the software sales with my <a href="http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/695591/Analysis-NPD-April-2009-Console-Sales---Nintendo-DSi-And-Sony-PlayStation-2-Flourish.html">esteemed colleague Raymond Padilla heading up the hardware sales analysis</a>.</p> <p>It was a relatively quiet month and overall, sales were down 23% when compared to last year, which saw the releases of <em>Grand Theft Auto IV</em>&nbsp;and <em>Metal Gear Solid 4</em>.</p> <p>Here's the top five:</p> <ol> <li><em>Wii Fit </em>w/ Balance Board, Nintendo, 471K</li> <li>DS <em>Pokemon Platinum</em>, Nintendo, 433K</li> <li>Wii <em>Mario Kart Wii</em> w/ Wheel, Nintendo, 210K</li> <li><em>Wii Play</em> w/ Remote, Nintendo, 170K</li> <li>360 <em>The Godfather II</em>, EA, 155K</li> </ol> <p>Nintendo certainly came to party and Pokemon Platinum continued to sell amazingly well moving&nbsp;<a href="http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/694805/Analysis-March-2009-NPD-Software-Sales---Resident-Evil-5-And-Pokemon-Perform.html">just over half of its March count</a>. The Godfather II surprises me a bit, but I guess a movie license is worth the trouble in a slow month.&nbsp;&lt;exclude&gt;Click through to see the rest of the top ten.&lt;/exclude&gt;</p> <p>

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