May was not a good month for US retail sales of video game hardware and software, with a drop compared to May 2014. “In May 2015, overall sales across hardware, new physical software, and accessories declined by 13 percent,” said NPD’s Liam Callahan. “The 20 percent growth in accessories was unable to offset the 18 percent and 25 percent respective declines in new physical software and hardware.”

The hardware picture was decidedly mixed, with the last generation console sales dropping sharply while the current generation stayed about the same, and handhelds had a strong month. “Hardware unit sales for eighth generation consoles were stable from May 2014, with the largest percentage and volumetric declines stemming from a drop in seventh generation consoles,” Callahan said. “Year-to-date hardware unit sales are stable with a slight 1 percent decrease from the same time period last year. Eighth generation unit sales are stable, with seventh generation down 45 percent, and portable hardware sales up 41 percent.”

In the long-running battle between Sony and Microsoft for the most consoles sold in the month, once again Sony came out on top. “As we head into E3, we would like to thank gamers for making PS4 the top selling console and the leader in software sales in the U.S. in May. PS4 continues to be the cumulative sales leader in the US and globally with more than 20 million consoles already in the market. We are truly humbled by this success and we look forward to sharing what’s next for PS4 at our E3 press conference on June 15,” said Sony in a press release.

Meanwhile, software didn’t do all that well compared to last year, which NPD attributes to the strength of last year’s new releases in May. “The decline in May 2015 is attributed to poor comparisons to a strong release slate in May 2014, specifically the launches of Mario Kart 8 and Watch Dogs,” Callahan said. “Collectively, May 2015 launches sold 55 percent less dollars than May 2014 launches, however, catalog games outside of the launch month sold 3 percent more dollar volume compared to catalog games in May 2014.”

Still, the current consoles were once again a bright spot. “Despite poor comparisons to May 2014 releases, eighth generation consoles software unit sales rose 8 percent in May 2015, and also gained 15 percentage points in overall software unit share to total 54 percent,” Callahan noted. “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the number one game this month and also had the best-selling first month unit sales within the role-playing super genre for eighth generation consoles. With a consistent stream of launches through the first five month of 2015, Warner Bros. Interactive is the top software publisher year to date through May 2015, with over 140 percent increase in dollar sales versus last year. Warner is poised for further growth with the launch of highly-anticipated Batman: Arkham Knight, in June.”

The real strength for May was in the Accessories category. “May 2015 was a positive month for video game accessory sales, with dollar sales up 20%,” Callahan pointed out. “The top 5 accessory types: Interactive Gaming Toys; point cards; gamepads; headsets/headphones; and power supplies, all experienced year-over-year growth. Interactive gaming toy sales experienced stellar growth of 73 percent in May 2015 as Nintendo’s amiibo accessories led dollar sales for the first time since launch.”

May 2015 Top 10 Games (New Physical Retail only) Rank Publisher
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, XBO, PC)** Warner Bros. Interactive
2. Mortal Kombat X (PS4, XBO)** Warner Bros. Interactive
3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
4. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO, PS4) Microsoft/ Sony
5. Splatoon (NWU) Nintendo
6. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4, 360, XBO, PS3, PC)** Activision Blizzard
7. NBA 2K15 (360, PS4, XBO, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
8. FIFA 15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSV)** Electronic Arts
9. MLB 15: The Show (PS4, PS3)** Sony
10. Super Smash Bros. (3DS, NWU)** Nintendo
**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)