Game Consoles – October 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis

We’re nearing the two busiest months of the year in November and December. Last month, we saw the PS3 take top spot thanks to the price cut and the new Slim model. At that time, I questioned the longevity of this bump in sales, whether it was a long term thing thanks to the lowered price, or whether it was a temporary bump due to people upgrading their existing consoles to the Slim. This month’s figures should give us a better idea as to what has occurred. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every month.

The figures for US sales in October 2009 are below, ranked in order of number of sales (October 2008 figures also shown, including percentage change):

  • Wii: 506,900 (Total: 22.1 million; October 2008: 803,000 – down 37%)
  • DS: 457,600 (Total: 34.4 million; October 2008: 491,000 – down 7%)
  • PS3: 320,600 (Total: 9.1 million; October 2008: 190,000 – up 69%)
  • Xbox 360: 249,700 (Total: 16.5 million; October 2008: 371,000 – down 33%)
  • PSP: 174,600 (Total: 15.9 million; October 2008: 193,000 – down 10%)
  • PS2: 117,800 (Total: 44.7 million; October 2008: 136,000 – down 13%)
NPD October 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

NPD October 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of October 2009)

NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of October 2009)

My prediction from last month was:

It’s time to make a prediction of October 2009’s results. For my money, I’ll say that the order of the hardware sales will remain the same, although the Wii numbers will be closer to the PS3 numbers. The PSP Go debuts, but based on an Australian report about the poor sales figures (a couple of hundred sales per week in an entire country, is not the best), the impact of the PSP Go may be muted. Sony will continue to have good month, but this time backed up in software sales as well with Uncharted 2. It might not sell enough to top the number one title, which might be Wii Sports Resort. Wii Fit Plus might take a place in the top half of the charts as well. I expect FIFA 10 to show up in one of more flavors in the top 10. Borderlands might make a showing too.

Some right, some wrong. The biggest surprise, if you can call it that, was that the Wii price cut managed to do enough to unseat the PS3 from the top spot. Part of this was also due to the price cut, Slim induced sales bump not lasting as long as one would expect. This is true of the Xbox 360 price cut as well, and if November wasn’t such a bumper month for sales, it might also be true for the Wii as well next month. My predictions about PSP Go sales being relatively subdued was also correct, with combined PSP sales of both the old and new models actually dropping compared to last month (but dropping less than it would have been had the PSP Go not been released). For my software predictions, I was right about Uncharted 2 doing well for Sony, but wrong about it not taking the number one spot. It did, and quite comfortably. Wii Sports Resort failed to keep its sales up, and was beaten in the end by Wii Fit Plus. FIFA 10 did show up, albeit in last place, but Borderlands did well on the Xbox 360 at least.

So let’s take a look at the PS3 numbers first. After a great month in which it took top spot amongst the home consoles for the first time since I’ve started analyzing the figures, it quickly felled back down again, but at least it managed to beat the Xbox 360. We’ll still need a couple of months to see if the price cut has any long term effects, but one thing is for certain, that last month’s bump for the PS3 had parts of it which were very temporary in nature. I would expect a price cut to be more long term, and the introduction of a new model to be more short term (due to the number of people who upgrade, which only occurs once), and so one can conclude that what made the PS3 the number one selling home based console in September was down to a fairly even combination of both events (price cut and new model), but that the temporary has started wearing off for October. Certainly those that expected the PS3 to be selling over the Wii from last month onwards were a bit too optimistic in their predictions, perhaps. In any case, Sony can still be extremely happy with the results, as the PS3 recorded what was the only year-on-year sales increase of all the consoles (more on that later).

The Wii’s sales bump is welcome news for Nintendo in what has been a fairly miserable year, especially in the last quarter. The price cut, while occurring in the last month, seems to have had the full effect in October as the Wii was the only console to record growth compared to September. But the overall picture is still not a happy one for Nintendo, as the year-on-year sale of the Wii saw a huge 37% drop, the largest of any console. Part of this was due to how incredibly the Wii was selling this time last year, way above any expectations. The other part is the slow decline in Wii sales that has occurred over 2009. At least the DS is still doing relatively well, keeping a firm grip on the number one spot and only recording a small year-on-year drop.

The Xbox 360 figures are again not looking great for Microsoft. A huge year-on-year drop breaks the trend for 2009, in which the Xbox 360 was pretty much the only console to record year-on-year growth (or negligible losses in a couple of months). This suggest the PS3 price cut has really hurt the Xbox 360 where it counts, and the fortunes have been reversed for the two consoles post the PS3 price cut, as the PS3 was the one recording large year-on-year sales drops up until the price cut. With Project Natal not coming until this time next year, later than PS3’s motion controller, which might be able to steal the Natal thunder if it’s properly integrated with the PS3 Eye and with useful software, time is running out for Microsoft to do something. To be fair, it was always a difficult struggle for the Xbox 360 to beat the PS3, and it has outperformed everyone’s expectations up until this point. Price cuts had allowed the Xbox 360 to outperform the PS3, but price cuts are not something that can go on forever, and given similar prices, the PS3 with its Blu-ray functionality and more advanced design will always win. So it may not be a case of the Xbox 360 losing to the PS3, but rather, both consoles finding their rightful place now that the PS3 ridiculous pricing has been removed as a factor. For Microsoft, Natal is a step in the right direction, but the November 2010 release date may just be too late to change things. The only thing that Microsoft has in its arsenal is the larger install base of the Xbox 360 over the PS3 in the US, which should at least mean that it will take some time before the PS3 finds parity, and will still allow them to sell software in good numbers until then. And the better multiplayer platform in Xbox Live over the PlayStation Network, and add to that the larger install base, does still give the Xbox 360 some momentum (the “if my friends are already on the 360, I have to be on it too” principle). Making Xbox Live Gold free is probably the only other weapon left for Microsoft to use.

Looking at sales as a whole, October performed badly compared to September and certainly compared to the same time last year. There might be a recession related thing going on at the moment, or just the lack of really big titles, but the stimulus given by the price drops, or new models being released, seems to be the only things keeping the figures from sliding further down. Things will be on the up in November for sure, but the numbers will be extremely interesting to see if there is a year-on-year growth or decline, and whether how well the PS3 numbers do compared to the Wii (and to a lesser extent, the Xbox 360), both to see if temporary factors were responsible for the Wii’s sales increase this month, and again to confirm the longevity of the PS3 price cut boost.

Moving on to software, things are slightly better, although a year-on-year decline was still the order of the day. The top title was a PS3 title for only the second time since I’ve started keeping track (the previous one was Metal Gear Solid 4 in June 2008). Uncharted 2 was the top selling title in question, and being an exclusive, that’s exactly where it should be. But compared to last month’s number one, which was also a follow-up game in a series and also a platform exclusive (Halo 3: ODST), the sales are still somewhat disappointing (Halo 3: ODST outsold Uncharted 2 by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1). Getting more out of platform exclusives, especially high profile ones such as the Uncharted series, whether that’s through more extensive marketing or other tactics, is something Sony can work on to better its software sales. There was only one other PS3 title in the top 10, NBA 2K10, a multi-platform release. There were only two Wii titles in the top 10, Wii Fit Plus as predicted and Wii Sports Resort, which saw sales drop compared to last month. The rest, apart from one DS title, was all Microsoft. 5 titles in the top 10, and even though the highest placed was only third, it still managed to grab 44.3% of total sales, the third best set of results in 2009. Wii games accounted 25.1% of the top 10, and the PS3 was third once more with 25% of sales.

Here’s the complete list of the top 10 software sales:

  1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3, Sony) – 537,000
  2. Wii Fit Plus (Wii, Nintendo) – 441,000
  3. Borderlands (Xbox 360, Take-Two) – 418,000
  4. Wii Sports Resort (Wii, Nintendo) – 314,000
  5. NBA 2K10 (Xbox 360, 2K Sports) – 311,000
  6. Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360, Microsoft) – 271,000
  7. NBA 2K10 (PS3, 2K Sports) – 213,000
  8. Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360, Microsoft) – 175,000
  9. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS, Square Enix) – 169,000
  10. FIFA 10 (Xbox 360, EA Sports) – 156,000

Prediction time. This is a hard one. Sales will go up considerably compared to October, that’s for sure. The DS will be top, the number two spot will be closely fought between the PS3 and Wii, although I’m leaning towards the Wii winning that battle right now. The Xbox 360 is 4th, followed by the other two PlayStation consoles. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will be the number one selling game, and the controversial game will be a record seller if the hype is anything to go by. The Xbox 360 version of this multi-platform game should be the one occupying the top spot. Other titles that will do well for the Xbox 360 include Assassin’s Creed II and the console platform exclusive Left 4 Dead 2. For the Wii, a new Super Mario Bros game will always be a hit, and it could give CoD: MW2 some competition (although mainly for the PS3 version, one suspect). Dragon Age: Origins, from the same people that gave us Mass Effect, could make the top 10 as well, since I’ve been hearing a lot about this game recently.

See you next month.


2 Responses to “Game Consoles – October 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis”

  1. Weekly News Roundup (15 November 2009) « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

    […] DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Just what the world needs, another blog « Game Consoles – October 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis […]

  2. Game Consoles – November 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis | DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

    […] Warfare 2), the figures this month are extremely interesting. You can read last month’s analysis here. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every […]

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