February’s NPD numbers suggest an industry slump

5 min read


It’s that time of the month again! No, it’s not time for end of the month Salticrax just yet – but rather that time of the month where I tell you that the PlayStation 4 is still beating the Xbox One in retail sales. Yes, that’s happened again. Again.

That’s not the important bit though. According to the NPD, the games industry is in a massive slump.

“In February 2016, decreases in hardware spending as well as new physical software spending led to an overall decrease in physical spending of $118 million,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.

The biggest issues? Hardware sales are down nearly 25% year-on-year, down from $378.2 million to $292.2 million. Part of that is down to Microsoft and Sony cutting the price of their consoles, but also because Nintendo’s position has become stagnant. With no new hardware releases (Last year saw the release of the New Nintendo 3DS).

“The main cause of the decrease was portable hardware, which dropped by 58 percent, or $48 million, due to a difficult comparison to the launch of Nintendo’s new 3DS in February 2015,” said Callahan. “Console hardware sales suffered due to the dramatic drop off of 23 percent as both [current- and last-generation] consoles experienced declines.”

Sales of the old gen stuff as also very nearly ground to a halt – with sales of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii sales down by 77 percent. Current gen console sales; PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U dropped by 6 percent.

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Packaged, retail video games aren’t selling particularly well either, with sales down by around 10% year-on-year.

“Despite the success of some February 2016 new launches relative to their predecessors, collectively, new launches sold 4 percent less in dollars and 12 percent fewer units than those of February 2015,” said Callahan.

Software sales on the old consoles have dropped by half.

Of course, because the NPD only tracks physical sales within the US, this doomy, gloomy outlook is only half of the picture. GfK and SuperData recently teamed up to deliver a more comprehensive look at how the games industry is doing within a European context, by delivering reports that account for digital sales.

On to the charts though. Far Cry Primal was the biggest game in February – and it looks like Street Fighter V is a bit of a bust for Capcom and Sony; it was outsold by the latest Naruto. It’s a real shame, because it’s a superb fighting game, but was launched in an incomplete state to appease the pro circuit – but has left the average consumer in the cold.

  1. Far Cry: Primal (PS4, Xbox One)
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS4, Xbox One)
  5. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  6. Lego Marvel Avengers (PS4, 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, 3DS, Vita)
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4)
  8. Minecraft (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
  9. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS)
  10. Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
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Both Sony and Microsoft provide their usual PR-laden statements. Here’s what Sony had to say:

“We would like to thank our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling hardware platform and the software sales leader in February, according to NPD. We continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth for PS4 hardware and software and are truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm from gamers.”

Microsoft’s focus, of course, is on engagement, so that was the keyword in their statement.

“The unmatched lineup of games available on Xbox One continues to generate a strong response from gamers as seen through global Xbox Live engagement and exclusive game sales. Compared to February 2015, exclusive Xbox One U.S. game sales drove a 49 percent increase and the total number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One worldwide rose 93 percent.”

Last Updated: March 11, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • The Sten

    Do Farcry Primal, Naruto and Street fighter not sell a single retail copy on PC?

  • Ryanza

    CDPR’s problem with the Witcher 3 is that it never sold like it was the game of the year. Witcher 3 is one of the best games of the year but it never sold like one. 20 million sales yes is good but Witcher 3 was not on the top 10 sales charts year long.

    If you look at the sale charts every month Call of Duty, sport games, GTA will always be on that list.

    If you were a video gamer on this planet Earth you had access to buy Witcher 3, which explains the 20 million but it didn’t sell like a Call of Duty game would.

    CDPR really wants a game that is fucking good, that everyone loves, and that sells like no other. CDPR wants to make a mark in the gaming industry with sale records. They want their name to be among the top.

    CDPR is going to use all that money it made with Witcher 3 and going to make Cyberpunk 2077 the best fucking game for us. And there will be guns, so it will sell.

    I can’t wait.

  • Fox1 – Retro

    One thing I miss about the previous generation are the sales at retailers. Back when the XBox 360 launched, you could get a new game for R199 or R299 6 months down the line. Nowadays, that’s a far cry for the primal gamer.

    • Pariah

      What you did there. I see it. And approve.

  • Jac7

    The best value for money I recently got was the Uncharted collection. 800 bucks and zero fucks. Happy camper. I can’t eat now, but you know…priorities.

    • Darren Peach

      Food is important.

      • But gaming is importanter

        • Darren Peach

          I guess.

          • Jac7

            You’re all delicious.

          • Jac7

            I mean…you’re right. Yeah…you’re all right.

          • Darren Peach

            Hungry much ?

    • The Sten

      Pretty much every game i buy gives me zero fucks


  • Darren Peach

    I have no Idea how to react to this….Wanna Apple ?

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