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NPD Group releases sales data for December 2016 and its annual report

People bought video games last year. But how many, and which ones? Inquiring minds must know.

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Market analyst NPD Group has published two sales reports: one for December 2016, and another looking back at annual trends and data for the entirety of last year.

Total spending took a hit last month, with $2.8 billion spend on hardware, software, and accessories, for a 15 percent decrease for the month relative to December 2015.

Hardware and software sales for the year were more uneven. The hardware category dropped by 24 percent as a result of total sales and average retail prices compared to units sold and the price per unit in 2015. "On a positive note, Nintendo did shift an additional 4 percent of 3DS systems thanks in large part to the heightened demand for Pokémon," an NPD representative pointed out.

Getting more granular, PS4 emerged as the top hardware seller for the month of December, with the PlayStation 4 Slim bundled with Uncharted 4 and a 500GB internal hard drive standing tall out of Sony's SKUs. Microsoft enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 10 percent in Xbox One systems sold, and Nintendo saw a 14 percent jump in sales of the NES Classic Edition compared to sales in November—probably because people actually managed to find some.

Unfortunately, the release of Xbox One S and PS4 Pro were not enough to buoy hardware sales. "Total hardware spending for 2016 reached $3.7B, a decline of 24 percent versus 2015."

Final Fantasy XV's wave of positive reception translated to high sales in December 2016: although Activision's Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare took the sales crown, Square Enix's JRPG was the second-best-selling title of the month and the top seller on PS4. "Final Fantasy XV experienced the best console launch month in the history of the franchise (since tracking began in 1995) selling 19 percent more new physical units than Final Fantasy XIII in its launch month and 54 percent more in total dollar revenue including digital full game sales," per NPD Group.

As for accessories, consumers bought more Xbox One and PS4 controllers than they did in 2015, but not enough to prevent a five percent decline in gamepad purchases for the year. 

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 davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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  • reply
    January 19, 2017 4:19 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, NPD Group releases sales data for December 2016 and its annual report

    • reply
      January 19, 2017 7:47 PM

      24% decline in system sales. Wonder if Pro vs Scorpio & Switch had anything to do with that. Or, is this just a sign of the market and/or economy as a whole? I'm getting a Switch, and am waiting to see what Scorpio actually ends up being. Though, I keep eyeing the PS4 for some DQ goodness.

      • reply
        January 19, 2017 8:12 PM

        not unit sales, revenue. So the major consoles having price cuts will hurt top line revenue unless it spurred huge growth in unit sales.

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