Top Global Markets Reveals Top Games of 2009, Overall Unit Sales Down 8%

The triumvirate of research groups behind Top Global Markets--NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc.--have issued their breakdown of 2009, listing the year's top-selling console games and detailing the status of their markets.

2009* Top 5 Video Game Titles - Top Global Markets Report (By Units**)

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward) - 11.86 million units
    (8.82M US / 2.8M UK / 237.5K JP)
  2. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo) - 7.57 million units
    (4.54M US / 1.49M UK / 1.54M JP)
  3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo) - 7.41 million units
    (4.23M US / 687.3K UK / 2.49M JP)
  4. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo) - 5.80 million units
    (3.53M US / 968.3K UK / 1.3M JP)
  5. Wii Fit (Nintendo) - 5.44 million units
    (3.6M US / 1.25M UK / 588.3K JP)

    **Unit sales figures rounded- due to rounding, the sum of the individual countries may not equal the Total for certain titles
As usual, the report only accounts for three of the leading markets--United States, Japan and UK--meaning that the figures are not representative of total global sales.

Combined, the three markets saw overall unit sales drop 8% over 2008--down to 379.3 million--a drop partially attributed to "the shrinking PlayStation 2 software market," as PS2 software sales dropped 57% across the three (U.S. -56% / UK -67% / Japan -55%).

A breakdown of each particular market, as well as Methodology, can be found below:

The declines were more modest in Japan, which experienced a 2 percent decline in software units (5 percent decline in console software and a 1 percent decline in portable game software).

"Japan's 2009 game software market was blessed with a string of Nintendo DS software hits during the period, including the trio of double-million-plus sellers, 'Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito,' 'Pocket Monster Heart Gold/Soul Silver,' and the year's most successful non-sequel, 'Tomodachi Collection,' which sold 2 million units," said Mitsunobu Uwatoko, manager of global marketing, Enterbrain, Inc. "Moreover, 'Final Fantasy XIII,' 'Wii Sports Resort,' and 'Wii Fit Plus,' sold over a million each on top of the long-awaited 'New Super Mario Bros. Wii,' which sold over 2.4 million during its first month at retail.

However, these titles could not manage to recover the losses experienced during the first half of the year, thus the annual total sales was slightly down."

United Kingdom
"For the UK videogame home console software market it is clear that current generation systems suffered slight negative growth overall in 2009, even though PS3 and 360 both enjoyed record volume (and value) software sales for the year, and were the only formats to exhibit positive growth over 2008," said Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track Limited. "Growth on these platforms did not manage to offset the steep decline in PS2 software units (-67%), which in real terms was close to a decline of 4 million units. Also, the incredible performance exhibited by Nintendo's Wii in 2008 meant that Wii units fell back 10 percent, although remained the number one format in terms of units sold in 2009.

Within the portable market, it is clear that this is the reason for the overall console software decline. Nintendo DS volume (and value) sales in 2008 reached a high point brought about by massive, record-breaking DS Lite sales, and the corresponding sales of hit titles such as 'Dr Kawashima,' 'Mario & Sonic at the Olympics,' 'New Super Mario,' and 'Mario Kart DS.' Rolling on to 2009 saw much lower DS hardware sell-through and no new must-have DS titles at the top of the charts, apart from 'Professor Layton and Pandora's Box.' Sony's PSP suffered a similar fate, with few must-have titles arriving in 2009, and a continued decline in PSP hardware sales, ever since the sweet spot achieved in 2006 with the original PSP."

United States
"Looking at software sales performance, video game software unit sales declined seven percent for all of 2009. Still, while year-over-year comparisons show declines, the industry is still boasting significant volumes that were unseen before 2008," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "With the huge investment needed to produce software for this generation's consoles, many publishers talk about releasing fewer titles each year, which will allow their teams to better focus on maximizing the success of each title. The theory is that this will produce more high- quality games resulting in better sales. However, the year-end data from 2009 shows us that the number of titles entering the market is still growing with 778 new titles released in 2009, up from the 764 in 2008.

So, while there has been no noticeable slow down in the number of titles launched each year, we do see some evidence of a converse relationship between the number of titles launched and the average unit sales of a title. When looking back at the past seven years, we see that 2004 had the lowest number of titles launched, yet the highest average unit sales. On the other hand, 2009 had the most titles launched and average unit sales were lower than they've been since 2005."

Top Global Markets Report is an integrated monthly report from leading providers of consumer and retail information in the video games industry, The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track Limited and Enterbrain, Inc. It provides integrated point-of-sale data for console video game software sales in the world's largest games markets. Like-for-like annual comparisons mean that only the first 52 weeks of 2009 are included here (2009 was a 53 week year in the UK retail calendar, the last time this happened was in 2004).
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 3, 2010 10:05 AM

    Are PC game sales down too? Even when digital online sales are accounted for?

    • reply
      February 3, 2010 10:06 AM

      You'd have to have a centralized source for digital sales numbers first to really figure that out.

      This report focuses on consoles.

    • reply
      February 3, 2010 10:24 AM

      With the way people have been losing jobs over the past year, this isn't a surprise. You have to pay the electric bill for the computer to work! :)

      • reply
        February 3, 2010 1:57 PM

        So console games are developed on consoles? What?

    • reply
      February 3, 2010 11:51 AM

      No one have pc games sales data.

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