Game Consoles – September 2011 NPD Sales Figure Analysis

Welcome to the September 2011 edition of our regular NPD US video game sales analysis, by my calculation, the 53rd edition of this feature. In this feature, we look at video game sales, both hardware and software, for the month of September 2011 based on data collected by the NPD. The PS3 price cut took place half way through August, but in the September data, we now having a full month worth of PS3 sales at the now $50 lower price point, so we can finally see if it was able to beat the Xbox 360, which it might have done in August if the price cut had taken place a bit earlier. But the Xbox 360 has an ace up its sleeve this month, as we see a new version of one of its major exclusive franchises, Gears of War. Read on to find out who wins September.

As NPD no longer releases full hardware sales figures, this feature is reliant on the game companies, namely Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, to release their set of figures and based on “statement math” (that is, arithmetically calculate missing figures based on statements made). For September 2011, these are the statements made by the gaming companies:

  • Nintendo reveals the Wii sold 240,000 units, with 260,000 3DS consoles, and 145,000 DS (via PR email)
  • Microsoft revealed 438,000 Xbox 360 hardware units sold, with 42% of the home based console market share (source)
  • Sony did not reveal exact figures, but said that the PS3 hardware sale increase 20% year-on-year (Sony statement, via Senior Director of Corporate Communications at SCEA, Patrick Seybold)

Unfortunately for this month, Microsoft and Sony’s statements do conflict with each other a bit. Using Microsoft’s statement, PS3 sales can be deduced to be 364,857 units, but according to Sony’s own statement, the figure is more like 374,400 (20% more than September 2010’s 312,000). Obviously, there are rounding errors from all the company’s statements, so giving Sony the benefit of the doubt, we’ll presume the PS3 sales figure for September 2011 is the higher 374,400.

And so the figures for US sales in September 2011 are below, ranked in order of number of sales (September 2010 figures also shown, including percentage change):

  • Xbox 360: 438,000 (Total: 28.8 million; September 2010: 483,989 – down 9.5%)
  • PS3: 374,400 (Total: 17.7 million; September 2010: 312,000 – up 20%)
  • Wii: 240,000 (Total: 36.6 million; September 2010: 254,000 – down 5.5%)
NPD September 2011 Game Console US Sales Figures

NPD September 2011 Game Console US Sales Figures

NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of September 2011)

NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of September 2011)

My prediction from last month was:

I think the Xbox 360 will still come out as the top selling console for September 2011, mainly due to ‘Gear of War 3′, but the PS3 will definitely come closer than it did this month, and with ‘Resistance 3′, it too might benefit from a platform exclusive. The Wii will be third. Games wise, ‘Gear of War 3′ looks set to be a top seller, despite being a platform exclusive release. ‘Resistance 3′, on the other hand, doesn’t look to have the same effect, although it will still sell well. Combined platforms sales may even push ‘Dead Island’ to the top of the charts.

I got the hardware ordering spot on, although it really wasn’t that hard to predict what was going to happen. The PS3 did get closer to the Xbox 360 sales, but it’s clear now that the 360 is now the dominant console in the US, and not even a PS3 price cut can affect its status it seems (unless that price cut was a more substantial $100, for example). For the game predictions, Madden was actually the top selling title, followed by Gears of War 3. And ‘Dead Island’ did manage to put its way high up in the charts, in 3rd place. Resistance 3, on the other hand, only finished 7th, not the worst result, but the average critical response to the game may have had some effect.

So the Xbox 360 continues its winning streak, by not only becoming the dominant home based console, but it’s also the best selling console for September, period. Looking at the life to date sales numbers, the Xbox 360 continues to pull ahead of the PS3, and continues to get closer to the Wii, to the point where the difference between the Wii and 360 numbers is actually less now than the difference between the 360 and PS3 numbers. Because of the Xbox 360’s dominance with multi-platform releases in North America, namely that if the same game is on multiple platforms, the Xbox 360 version is usually the most popular, the hit releases planned for the next few month starting with Batman: Arkham City and Battlefield 3 next month, and MW3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in November, will all benefit the Xbox 360 more. The it appears that the 360’s exclusives, such as Halo and Gears of War, appear to be far more popular than the PS3’s line up, including ‘Resistance’ this month.

But you cannot say the PS3 performed badly for September – after all, it was the only console to see year-on-year growth, but just like how the other consoles found it difficult to compete with the PS2 in the last generation, the PS3 is having a hard time trying to catch up to the Xbox 360 (and Wii, for the early parts anyway) in this generation (although the gap between the consoles is much less pronounced than the last generation). Taking off my fanboy hat for a moment, the truth is that both the PS3 and Xbox 360 are excellent game consoles with excellent game line ups and fantastic multimedia capabilities. Each console has their own pros and cons, and thanks to the Xbox 360’s head-start, the Wii’s (then) innovative control system, and the PS3’s Blu-ray drive, we now have a much more balanced set of competitors, and that can only be good for gamers, who should consider themselves lucky to be able to enjoy so many great games in the last few years.

The Wii, right now, is the only loser, but it’s not something Nintendo are unaware of, and the Wii-U will set to address many of the shortcomings of the Wii console, but also maintain Nintendo’s reputation for producing fun, family based games.

For game sales, Madden’s delay from August to September allowed it to rule the roost for the month, but Gears of War 3 would be considered the best selling Xbox 360 game for the month, the Madden ranking includes all platform sales. Dead Island was the only original franchise in the top 10, and it did well to come in 3rd, but it also shows that, unlike movies, gaming sequels are actually welcomed by gamers, and usually are huge improvements on the original, not just an opportunity to cash-in (take note Hollywood). FIFA’s high ranking highlights the growing popularity of “soccer” games, beating NHL 11, something it didn’t do last year this time. And a 10th place for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a good result for the franchise. Electronic Arts are the real winners, with 3 of the top 10 titles belonging to them, and the all important first place too. Here’s the full software sales chart for September:

  1. Madden NFL 12 (EA, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP)
  2. Gears of War 3 (Microsoft, Xbox 360)
  3. Dead Island (Deep Silver, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  4. FIFA 12 (EA, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, 3DS)
  5. NHL 12 (EA, Xbox 360, PS3)
  6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Square Enix, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  7. Resistance 3 (Sony, PS3)
  8. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts, Wii, NDS, Xbox 360, 3DS, PS3, PSP, PC)
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, NDS,PC)
  10. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (THQ, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Time to make my usual prediction. I think the hardware situation will remain largely the same. Games wise, Batman: Arkham City and Battlefield 3 go head to head, with Forza 4 on the Xbox 360 possible making the top 10 as well as a platform exclusive.

See you next month.


4 Responses to “Game Consoles – September 2011 NPD Sales Figure Analysis”

  1. Weekly News Roundup for the week ending 16 October 2011 | DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

    […] $50 price cut to the PS3 in the middle of August has seen PS3 sales rise, although as the September 2011 NPD US video games sales analysis shows, the rise was not big enough to really endanger the Xbox 360’s position as the best […]

  2. Matthew Bryant Says:

    And NPD data continues to be absolutely useless for any kind of real comparison between consoles that have two very different demographics and appeal to two very distant parts of the world.  Nintendo is stabbing themselves in the foot repeatedly, and a 20% growth for Sony is a big deal in the US.  Especially since they dominate Europe and Japan, if they’re coming within 15% of 360 sales, that’s pretty huge.  Especially since they outsell the 360 by a good 30-50% in Europe every month (and there’s a lot more gamers in Europe than Americans want to admit).

    Anyway, if you want to get meaningful data from the NPD, then take the data into context.  The PS3 isn’t going to outsell the 360 in the US anytime soon, if ever.  To pretend that the PS3 isn’t selling well worldwide, however, is a complete and total farce.  It’s been outselling the 360 steadily since launch.  Of course the PS3 hasn’t matched the 360 userbase in the US, it launched a year later and its main userbase is in Europe, with a decent showing in Japan and the US as well.

    Anyway, if you can’t take the numbers in context then there’s really no point in even posting them.  It’s just another jaded view that shows just how much Americans ignore everything that happens around them.  I do appreciate your attempt at showing that the PS3 did sell well this month compared to last month, but what you’re failing to either realize or mention is that the PS3 likely sold incredibly well in Europe, and possibly in Japan as well, which would skyrocket their sales for the month.  NPD is always going to favor Microsoft.  It’s not like it’s a surprise to anyone.  What is surprising is how Sony is showing huge growth, while the other companies are not (even after Microsoft’s attempt at renewing 360 interest with Kinect).  If they’re below last year already with Kinect being less than a year old, it’s a bad sign, not a good one.  Anyway, you’re entitled to your opinion.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’m actually Australian, not American, so I don’t think I have a particularly American-centric view of the gaming industry.

    The reason why this set of NPD data is taken so “seriously”, even though it’s only US based, is because it’s the only semi-reliable one available on a monthly basis. But the American market is a big one, nearly half of the world’s consoles are sold in this single country alone, so it’s not one to ignore.

    As for global sales, the life-to-date numbers show the Xbox 360 is still in front of the PS3 (well, as of June 2011 anyway, according to Wikipedia – see what I mean about having up to date, reliable numbers?), but that’s mainly because the Xbox 360 was released a year earlier. But in the UK, 2010 sales were in favour of the Xbox 360 as well (, but I have no idea what the situation is like right now though.

    Japan really is the odd market, where the PS3 completely trashes the Xbox 360, as Xbox 360 basically doesn’t sell in the country. But it’s a relatively small market (about 10% of total sales), and they have totally different tastes in gaming over there.

    So that really leaves “the rest of Europe” and countries like Australia as the other places where the PS3 comprehensively beats the Xbox 360, although again, I have no idea what the trend is since very little data is available. But from what I gather recently, total global Xbox 360 sales are also accelerating (according to Microsoft, anyway:, although I guess a large part of it (or all of it) is due to the great sales figures in the US.

    Don’t know what the situation is like with Kinect in other countries, but here in Australia, most prefer to buy the Xbox 360 bundle with Kinect as it’s better value than the Kinect-less bundles, even though most will probably never play any other game other than the one that comes free with it (but this isn’t a bad thing, as it worked out pretty well for the Wii + Wii Sports for quite a few years).

  4. Anonymous Says:

    And to highlight how “odd” the Japanese market is, the PSP still regularly outsells the PS3 over there. Yeah, that PSP!

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