Autumn is here, and gaming sales have returned with the falling leaves.
The video game industry generated $875.7 million in revenues in October, according to tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 6 percent year-over-year from $827.7 million. Software sales were up significantly even as hardware continues to see declines.
October 2016 results
NPD tracks game sales at U.S. retailers and certain digital stores (Xbox Store, PlayStation Store, and Steam), but it only gets digital data from participating retailers. So this data is only a snapshot of a wider industry, but it’s one that can provide understanding the business as a whole.
- Hardware October 2016: $215.2 million (down 20 percent YOY) October 2015: $270.3 million
- Console software October 2016: $505.7 million (up 31 percent YOY) October 2015: $384.8 million
- PC software October 2016: $33.8 million (up 172 percent YOY) October 2015: $12.4 million
- Accessories 2016: $121 million (down 24 percent YOY) October 2015: $160.2 million
“Total consumer spend on software, hardware, and accessories grew by 6 percent compared to October 2015,” NPD analyst Sam Naji said in a statement. “The release of popular titles such as Battlefield 1, Mafia III, and Gears of War 4 helped to increase software spending by one-third, offsetting declines in spending elsewhere.”
The big games were really the biggest drivers of revenues in October, and it wasn’t just the top 3. In addition to Battlefield 1, Mafia III, and Gears of War 4, publishers also dropped Titanfall 2 and Civilization VI. That was enough to drive that 36 percent growth compared to last October.
Hardware, however, continues to struggle in terms of dollar sales. But that doesn’t mean people are buying fewer consoles. Prices have dropped, and that’s the biggest reason the industry is generating less cash from system sales.
We’ll dive more into hardware soon, but first, let’s look at the top 10 best sellers in October.
- Battlefield 1**
- Mafia III
- Gears of War 4*
- FIFA 17
- NBA 2K17
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim*
- WWE 2K17
- Civilization VI
- Titanfall 2**
- Madden NFL 17
* Does not include digital sales.
**Does not include EA Origin sales on PC.
That’s a bunch of new games with familiar names. It looks like Mafia III’s mixed reviews didn’t hold it back. The game clearly found an audience, and that’s a big positive for publisher 2K, which noted this is its fastest-selling game ever.
Gears of War 4 also performed well as the top system-exclusive for the month. In an era where very few PlayStation 4- or Xbox One-only games hit the market, something like Gears of War 4 shows that concept still has some value for Microsoft and Sony.
Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 both ended up where most people were probably expecting. Battlefield debuted earlier in October than Titanfall, which came in right at the end of the month, but it still looks like Titanfall 2 underperformed relative to the first game.
Finally, Minecraft is not on this list for the second month in a row, and that is likely due to Microsoft introducing an Xbox One bundle with the game. The software chart does not count bundle titles.
The Xbox One was the top-selling console for the fourth month in a row, but just about everything is selling better even if they aren’t making as much money for their manufacturers.
“Unit sales for the Xbox One brand of hardware grew by 8 percent compared to last October,” said Naji. “Average pricing for the Xbox One hardware fell by 17 percent due primarily to the release of the lower-priced 500GB Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle.”
Nintendo’s handheld also continued to see growth as more players prepare for the launch of the new Pokémon game.
“The 3DS experienced its fifth straight month of year-on-year growth,” said Naji. “Both unit sales and consumer spending for October grew 12 percent as average pricing was flat year on year. It is likely that continued consumer interest in the Pokémon franchise and Monster Hunter: Generations has driven this growth.”
Finally, when it comes to Sony, its new slimmer PlayStation 4 also had a strong October. While all the various PS4 configurations didn’t outsell every Xbox One configuration, Sony still had the best-performing SKU.
“The PS4 Slim 500 GB Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End bundle was the month’s best-selling hardware across the category, accounting for 17 percent of total hardware units sold in the month,” said Naji.
Going forward, however, Sony should see an enormous boost in sales if its $400 PlayStation 4 Pro, which launched earlier in November, catches on with consumers.