The launch of a new Nintendo console has revitalized spending for the gaming industry.
Consumers in the United States dropped $1.36 billion on gaming-related hardware, software, and accessories last month. That’s up 24 percent year-over-year from $1.09 billion. Naturally, the Switch and Zelda were major contributors to that success. But Ubisoft also saw success with the introduction of a new Tom Clancy shooter series.
- Hardware: $485 million (up 91 percent from $235 million in March 2017)
- Console software: $612 million (up 5 percent from $585 million)
- PC software: $29 million (down 25 percent from $39 million)
- Accessories: $231 million (up 9 percent from $213 million)
“Total video game spending, which includes hardware, software and accessories, had a stellar month in spending growth thanks to the release of the Nintendo Switch and new titles including Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Mass Effect: Andromeda,” NPD analyst Sam Naji explained. “Spending grew by 24 percent compared to last year to over $1.3 billion.”
Nintendo returning to the market with a competitive console also put something of a finger in a leaking dam as this was the first time after nine straight months that the total physical game sales didn’t decline year-over-year.
Let’s get to the software charts.
NPD tracks software sales physically and digitally, but it doesn’t have the full digital picture. It only has certain publishers on certain platforms. Notable omissions include Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo first-party sales through their own stores.
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Horizon Zero Dawn*
- MLB 17: The Show*
- Grand Theft Auto V
- For Honor
- NBA 2K17
- Nier: Automata
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
- Battlefield 1
- 1-2 Switch*
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
- Super Bomberman R*
- Fifa 17
- Lego Worlds
- Madden NFL 17
*No digital sales
Yes. Zelda couldn’t outsell the multiplatform Wildlands that launches on consoles with a massive install base, but it still did extraordinary.
“Nintendo continued to break records in physical software as well as hardware,” said Naji. “Switch’s packaged software sold 1.3 million units, a record high for a Nintendo platform launch and the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold over 900,000 packaged units in the launch month. This resulted with an attach rate of 99 percent to the Switch hardware. This is the highest attach rate for any non-bundled title for a new gaming platform since NPD began tracking in 1995.”
And again, that doesn’t include any digital sales — although NPD wasn’t surprised at the success of Breath of the Wild.
“As a property, Zelda has been around in the U.S. since 1987,” said Naji. “NPD’s tracked sales for the Zelda franchise has recorded physical sales of just under $1.4 billion in revenue from 1995 to the present. And Zelda is the top-selling property of all time within the adventure super genre, selling 54 percent more revenue than the next best-selling franchise, Resident Evil.”
Outside of Zelda, the only other Nintendo game in the top 20 is the 1-2 Switch party game. It landed at No. 13, and it had an attach rate to the Switch of 19 percent.
Obviously, however, Ubisoft also had a strong showing in March with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
“[Wildlands] had the best launch of any Ghost Recon title,” said Sam Naji. “And, after Tom Clancy’s The Division, it was the second best launch of any Tom Clancy game.”
This proves the ongoing power of the Tom Clancy brand, which Ubisoft has capitalized on for decades.
Mass Effect, meanwhile, saw some slippage from the third entry in the series to the fourth; and Horizon: Zero Dawn was a huge lift for developer Guerrilla Games over its previous releases.
“Mass Effect: Andromeda, the third best-selling title in March 2017, had the second best launch in the series, behind Mass Effect 3,” said Naji. “And Horizon: Zero Dawn was the fourth best-selling title for the month. Developed by Guerrilla games, this was the developer’s best launch ever — with it selling twice as much as its next best title, Killzone: Shadow Fall.”