January NPD: 'New launch performance' down 99% YOY

It's not often you see such dramatic drops in sales. According to the latest data from the NPD, "new launch performance" dropped 99% in January 2012, versus 2011. Before you jump in your bunkers, crying out about the death of the video game industry, remember this: January 2011 saw the launch of a number of high-profile games, including Dead Space 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, and DC Universe online.

What did we see at the beginning of 2012? Pretty much nothing. (Releases like Final Fantasy XIII-2 came out too late in the month to be counted towards January results.)

According to NPD figures, the industry shrank from $1.14 billion in sales during January 2011, to $750.6 million in 2012. NPD analyst Liam Callahan added: "While the lack of new launches was a major reason for software declines, games which launched in Q4'11 also performed poorly in Jan'12, down 31% in units compared to Q4'10 launches in Jan'11. As shoppers were not drawn to stores due to new launch activity, this potentially impacted additional software purchases made on impulse."

Because there were no major releases in January, the top charts are comprised of games we're already familiar with:

    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)
  • NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, PC)
  • Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
  • Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)
  • Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Wii, 3DS, 360, PS3, PC)
  • Zumba Fitness 2: Party Yourself (Wii)
  • Saints Row: The Third (360, PS3, PC)

While the top 7 games on the list can be found in December 2011's chart, the bottom three are showing increased momentum. Saints Row: The Third makes a surprise reappearance, likely bolstered by increasing word-of-mouth sales. Skylanders finally reaches the top 10, months after its October release, showcasing the title's long legs. In addition to software, Skylanders toys have been dominating sales. "Skylanders accessories continue to perform well at retail with the '1 character pack' SKU ranking highest on units for Jan'12. Collectively, Skylander accessories represented 22% of total accessory unit sales."

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