"Very rough" is the easiest way the NPD Group could describe December's sales for all new hardware, physical software, and accessories. According to NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier, December accounted for just 23% of annual sales, "while the average for the past ten years has been 28." The period between November 27 and December 31, 2011, reeled in $3.99 billion--a 21% drop year-over-year.
One "bright side," as Frazier put it, were HD consoles. Sales across both the Xbox 360 and PS3 were up 5% in 2011, while the Xbox 360 specifically accounted for "nearly 40% of annual 2011 new physical retail sales across all categories." NPD notes that the Xbox 360 was the best-selling platform for the year. Only the Xbox 360 and PS3 managed a unit sales increase over last year.
"Overall industry results are not entirely surprising given that we are on the back end of the current console lifecycle, combined with the continued digital evolution of gaming," Frazier said. "Core gamers continue to be engaged and spend on established franchises across both the digital and physical format using multiple devices for different gaming occasions."
Notable ommisions from December's top sales were third installments from both the Uncharted and Saints Row franchises, which were unable to push into the top ten of unit sales after showing strong results in November. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was also absent from the top ten; however, the NPD Group notes that it would have been tenth had the firm still tracked games on a per SKU basis rather than combined platforms. Nintendo also enjoyed success from two Mario titles: Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, finishing fourth and ninth, respectively.
Physical retail sales for for Star Wars: The Old Republic put the game in fourteenth spot for the month, despite only releasing on December 20.
- Top 10 Games (New Physical Retail only; across all platforms including PC)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)
- Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3)
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)
- Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
- Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
- Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations (360, PS3, PC)
- NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, PC)
- Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
- Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3, PC)