NPD March: Mass Effect 3 tops despite overall sink in sales

Thursday, 12 April 2012 23:21 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

NPD has released its report for March 2012 retail sales in the US, and the news was rather grim as all sectors noted a decline in sales.

March at a Glance

Total spend declined 25% year-over-year.

All sectors declined year-on-year.

Mass Effect 3 was tops, with debut monthly sales twice that of Mass Effect 2’s 2010 effort.

Xbox 360 was the top seller for the 15th straight month, moving 371,000 units.

Total industry sales fell 25% year-over-year to $1.1 billion. Software across PC, handhelds and consoles fell 26% year-over-year to $585.1 million, while hardware sales declined 35% year-over-year to $323.5 million.

“While it was a disappointing month, and first quarter, for new physical retail sales of video games hardware, software and accessories, it wasn’t entirely unexpected given guidance we’ve seen from several sources,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

“Outside of new physical retail sales, we find that the consumer spend on content on used games, rentals, subscriptions, mobile games, social network games, digital full game downloads and add-on content accounted for an additional $2.5 billion to $2.7 billion across the US, UK France and Germany in Q1 2012.”


“Hardware really slowed down this month and all systems saw a unit sales decline versus last March, and on an average sales per week basis, versus February 2012, added Frazier. “That said, the high definition console systems fared better than many other hardware platforms.”

Microsoft came out the clear hardware winner with Xbox 360 topping the chart for the 15th consecutive month in a row moving 371,000 units. The console’s current-generation share in the market was 42% and for the 13th consecutive month Xbox 360 held over 40% of console market share.

Total US retail spend on the platform in March reached $430 million, more than the spend on PS3 and Wii combined, according to the firm.

Sony used the NPD report as an opportunity to reflect on how the PS Vita “ecosystem continues to grow with impressive hardware, software, and peripherals sales among big-box retailers, smaller retail shops and digital,” two moths after its release.

Nintendo has yet to issue a response as of press time.


High definition platform unit sales of software came in flat compared to last year, and according to NPD, Mass Effect 3 sold more than twice as much as Mass Effect 2 did “during its introductory month in January 2010.”

The BioWare title was the top seller for the month, followed by Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and MLB: The Show.

NPD noted Nintendo’s Kid Icarus: Uprising sold rather well despite its omission from the top 10. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure landed at number 15 on the top 20, and its three character pack SKU’s were among the top 10 accessory items for the month of March, helping drive sale of accessories which were “up in unit sales for the month, but down in dollars due to a decline in average retail price.”

“In a list of the top 10 SKUs for the month, as opposed to top titles as listed, 3DS Kids Icarus: Uprising would have been among the top selling individual SKUs for the month of March,” noted Frazier who also told Joystiq the title moved 140,000 copies and that Resident Evil: Revelations sold around 122,000 units.

During the month of March, Xbox 360 held five of the top 10 US console game titles including: Mass Effect 3, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, NBA 2K12, SSX and Major League Baseball 2K12.

SCEA’s new Sr. Director of Corporate Communications who took over for Patrick Seybold, Dan Race, stated that the firm is “seeing strong digital downloads across the board, including full digital-only purchases and extremely high conversion rates for digital demos to full game purchases with titles such as Unit 13, which showcases PS Vita’s unique 3G and shooter capabilities.”

“We look forward to furthering the PS Vita momentum with upcoming blockbuster titles like Mortal Kombat and Resistance: Burning Skies, and apps including Skype,” he added.

The tracking period for this month was February 26 to March 31, a five-week span.

  1. Mass Effect 3 – PC, PS3, 360 – EA
  2. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – PS3, 360 – Capcom
  3. MLB: The Show – PS3, Vita – Sony
  4. NBA 2K12 – PC, PSP, PS2, PS3, Wii, 360 PS2 – Take 2
  5. SSX 2012 – PS3, 360 -EA
  6. Street Fighter X Tekken – PS3, 360 – Capcom
  7. Mario Party 9 – Wii – Nintendo
  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – PC, PS3, Wii, 360 – Activision
  9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm – PS3, 360 – Namco Bandai
  10. MLB 2K12 NDS, PC, PSP, PS2, PS3, Wii, 360 – Take 2