The NPD Group has released its monthly report for sales on new physical video game products, as well as a subset of full-game digital downloads from participating publishers in NPD’s digital panel. Although not intended to cover total market/total consumer spend, the figures give us an idea of industry-wide trends.

March saw a drop in video game spending across hardware and software, while gaming accessories like cards and headphone sales grew dramatically as popular online multiplayer titles fuel the need for headsets.

Overall spending on hardware, software, accessories and game cards fell 11 percent year-over-year (YoY) to $1.3 billion in March. For the entire first quarter, however, sales grew 15 percent YoY to $3.4 billion across all categories.

The Sound Of Success

Headphones/headset sales grew 96 percent in March YoY and 78 percent year-to-date (YTD), which includes Xbox and PlayStation.

According to NPD video game industry analyst Mat Piscatella, headphone sales are driving accessories growth across both platforms, “likely driven by the increase in popularity of multiplayer games such as Fortnite from Epic Games.”

The most popular headset sold in March—and year to date—was the Xbox One Ear Force Stealth 600 wireless headset from Turtle Beach.

Cash For Consoles

Spending on Xbox One consoles has driven hardware growth up 13 percent to $925 million so far in 2018—the largest YTD total since 2014.

In March, the best-selling hardware item was the Nintendo Switch with 32G of memory and neon red/blue Joy-Con. This was also the most popular hardware item YTD.

Despite the success of its competitors, PlayStation 4 isn’t suffering—in fact, it remains the best-selling console hardware platform in March, meaning that more games were purchased for PS4 than Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. PS4 remains the best-selling console hardware platform YTD.

A Cult Following For Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 debuted as the top-selling title of March and instantly became the best-selling title of 2018, NPD reported. Ubisoft’s tale of an American cult set a new launch month sales record for the Far Cry franchise, nearly doubling full-game purchases compared to Far Cry 3.

Sea of Thieves stole the number two spot for March and is the eighth best-selling game of 2018 so far. The popular pirate game was developed by Rare, a company known for hits like Banjo Kazooie and Golden Eye 007. Rare was purchased by Microsoft in 2002 and Sea of Thieves generated the highest launch month sales for any Rare-produced title since tracking by The NPD Group began in 1995.