NPD stats reveal strong launch for The Division, peaks and valleys for game hardware

Business, business, business. Numbers!


It's that time of month again in the games business. NPD Group has collected data from the previous month of sales in the industry, giving fan boys and girls occasion to gloat or hang their heads in shame.

Tom Clancy's The Division carried sales of physical media to a record high compared to March 2015. "Sales of new launches, driven by Ubisoft's 'Tom Clancy's The Division,' helped propel March 2016 video game physical software sales 8 percent higher than last March," according to NPD Group. Overall sales of new launch titles grew by 26 percent," according to NPD, concluding that 2016's slate of games is looking strong compared to games released in quarter one of 2015.

Developers and executives at Ubisoft have even more reason to celebrate. According to NPD, The Division enjoyed the best launch month of any Clancy-branded title to date, and has sold 40 percent more units than Rainbow Six Vegas 2, released in March 2008 and now the second-best-selling title in the Clancy catalog.

"Stemming from strong launches of 'Tom Clancy's The Division,' and 'Far Cry: Primal,' Ubisoft is the number one software publisher for Q1 2016," NPD Group went on.

Nintendo had a good month, too. Although The Division and Far Cry: Primal took the first and second spots, respectively, in March's list of best-selling titles, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for Wii U came in third. GTA 5, UFC, MLB 16: The Show, Pokken Tournament, NBA 2K16, Black Ops 3, and Minecraft made up the rest of the list.

Software fared well, but the road through March was bumpier for hardware. Game hardware dollar sales dropped by 19 percent due to "softening of average retail prices of 2 percent since last March," per NPD. In other words, many consumers already have consoles compared to install size last year. 

While console sales sagged, accessories did much better. Graphics cards, game pads, headsets, and the like saw a nine percent increase in sales compared to March 2015.

No NPD report would be complete without Microsoft throwing up any numbers except Xbox One sales. "In March, global hours spent gaming on Xbox One increased 89 percent compared to last year," said NPD. "Xbox Live engagement was driven by the greatest games lineup, including new titles released in March like 'Killer Instinct: Season 3' and 'Tom Clancy's The Division.'"

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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