Now that we’re nearly one year into the latest generation of consoles, some trends are becoming apparent from US retail sales. Buyers are still ready to drop $400 on a new console, but they are not buying software as rapidly as they were last year. Once again, hardware sales were more than double last year (up 116 percent, from $90.8 million to $196.2 million) while console software dropped 21 percent versus August 2013 ($231.6 million versus $293.4 million). Accessories dropped off only slightly, hitting $133.5 million versus last August’s $136.8 million (about a 2 percent drop).
“In August 2014, overall hardware sales doubled from August 2013 caused by an over 200 percent increase in console hardware sales with continued strong sales of eighth generation hardware (which includes Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One),” said NPD’s Liam Callahan. “Eighth generation hardware represented close to 70 percent of August 2014 hardware sales, which is the highest percentage share since the release of the Xbox One and PS4 back in November 2013.”
Callahan noted the latest generation of consoles is selling much better than the last generation. “When lining up sales of PS4 and Xbox One after ten months on the market, the combined PS4 and Xbox One hardware sales are greater by over 70 percent compared to their predecessors,” said Callahan.
As is usually the case after NPD releases its numbers, console manufacturers have weighed in. Sony was happy to confirm that once again, the PlayStation 4 was the sales leader. “PlayStation 4 was No. 1 in hardware sales for the eighth consecutive month,” PlayStation senior vice president of marketing Guy Longworth said. “And it remains the cumulative leader for new-generation game consoles.”
Microsoft had to work a little harder in its remarks, but there’s still plenty of upside to point out. “Xbox One sales are on a positive trajectory, nearly doubling sales in August in the U.S. compared to July due in part to strong demand for the Xbox One Madden NFL 15 bundle. We’re looking forward to bringing the best value bundles, incredible offers like the ‘Buy a Console, Get a Game Free’ promotion running now, and more great games as we gear up for the launches of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2, Destiny, Grand Theft Auto V, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”
And, as usual lately, Nintendo didn’t make any statement. If you’re looking for numbers, you have to go to analyst estimates. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan estimated that Sony sold around 175,000 PS4sin the US, with Microsoft was closing the gap with 150,000 Xbox Ones sold. The Wii U is still a distant third by all accounts, even with its lower price point.
The picture for software is, alas, not anything like what’s happening with hardware. “Deep declines in seventh generation software of 57 percent were not offset by growth in eighth generation software, leading to a net decrease of console software sales of $47 million,” Callahan pointed out. “New launches in August 2014 declined 41 percent compared to new launch performance in August 2013 due to poor comparisons to August 2013 launches like Saints Row IV, Disney Infinity, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Eight out of the top ten games in August were new launches compared to only 3 in August 2014.”
Still, the latest generation of consoles started outperforming the last generation for software sales. “Madden NFL 15 was the number one game this month with consumers adopting eighth generation software over seventh generation, leading to growth over last August’s Madden NFL 25 – a trend which will hopefully become widespread and lead to software growth as we move towards the holidays,” said Callahan.
August 2014 Top 10 Games (New Physical Retail only)
1. Madden NFL 15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)** Electronic Arts
2. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)** Activision Blizzard
3. Minecraft (360, PS3) Microsoft/Sony
4. The Last of Us (PS4, PS3)**Sony
5. Call Of Duty: Ghosts (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC, NWU)** Activision Blizzard
6. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, PS3, NWU, PS4, 3DS, NDS, XBO, PSV, PC) Warner Bros. Interactive
7. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (360, PS3, PS4, XBO) Electronic Arts
8. Watch Dogs (PS4, 360, PS3, XBO, PC)** Ubisoft
9. Battlefield 4 (360, PS3, PS4, XBO, PC) Electronic Arts
10. The LEGO Movie Videogame (360, 3DS, PS3, NWU, PS4, XBO, PSV) Warner Bros. Interactive
**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)