November Numbers

The NPD sales figures are out. You can find them everywhere, with all gamers taking sides as they usually do at this time of the month.

Hardware
Nintendo DS — 1,530,000
Wii — 981,000
Xbox 360 — 770,000
PlayStation Portable — 567,000
PlayStation 2 — 496,000
PlayStation 3 — 466,000

Top Ten Software
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360) — 1,570,000
2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) — 1,120,000
3. Assassin’s Creed (Xbox 360) — 980,000
4. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PlayStation 2) — 967,000
5. Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) — 564,000
6. Mass Effect (Xbox 360) — 473,000
7. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PlayStation 3) — 444,000
8. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii) — 426,000
9. Halo 3 (Xbox 360) — 387,000
10. Assassin’s Creed (PlayStation 3) — 377,000

The Game of the Month phenomenon continues to drive Xbox 360 game sales. It’s notable that Mass Effect sold only 1/3 as much as Call of Duty 4. I think that’s a sign of three releases tapping out the audience by the end of the month plus the lower interest in sci-fi role-playing. Shooting, killing, that’s right in the demographic. Talking a bunch between the shooting and killing… not so much.

I’m only half-serious with the above comment, but the one true takeaway from the list of 360 games is that if you’re not making something M-rated for the system, you probably ought to be. That’s a clear message coming out of these lists every month. The 360 is for “Mature” gamers. Microsoft’s constant talk about appealing to families and casual gamers is just that, talk. It’s never reflected in the sales of games.

I do think that’s a product of the Game of the Month phenomenon I noted above. When your users are holding one or two games up each month as the reason to play the system, and those games are always in the same genre, that’s going to drive your system into the hands of similarly inclined folks. It’s certainly good money for those third party publishers that can get it, but it’s definitely limiting the appeal of the system. Sony seems to be following that same “Mature” model too, thus limiting their sales even more than the high price and lack of appealing games for their system do that already.

This is one time we really need to see ALL the sales from the month in one big spreadsheet to see how many games are selling above 50 or 60k. Sales are so high at this time of year that there may be a very broad spread of titles selling well on any of these systems. It’s almost assured that’s the case with the Nintendo DS, although there are definitely a lot of DSes getting sold with pack-ins this year. That’s either Nintendogs, Brain Age 2 or Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for those who haven’t been looking at the DS in stores.

Finally, the big question is what are all those people doing with their PlayStation Portables? I know my PSP is in the drawer out in the dining room and I don’t have any idea when I used it last. But it keeps selling really well both here and abroad while game sales are never anywhere to be found. If you go to any of the major retailers, they have such small selections of PSP games for sale. It’s got to represent a huge amount of either a.) piracy or b.) MP3 playing or c.) uh… who knows? My guess is that “homebrew” aka piracy is what these things get used for the most. Sony must be making money on the hardware by now, so maybe they’re ok with that?

PlayStation 3… well, I think I summed up pretty well what they should’ve done in the post below this one. Those sales aren’t good, but they’re not so bad that Sony should just quit. Someone’s still buying them.

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