NPD January: PS4 outsells Xbox One nearly 2:1, software sales fall off a cliff

By Brenna Hillier
13 February 2014 23:54 GMT

A lack of interesting new releases saw the US market under-perform in January 2014, according to the NPD Group’s latest report, but Sony definitely had something to celebrate.


NPD January 2014

Total industry spend down despite longer accounting period.

Software sales feel off dramatically.

Hardware sales up year-on-year thanks to next-gen launches.

December 2013’s figures.

January 2013’s figures.

In the wake of the NPD Group’s report, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo frequently issue reaction statements highlighting their own successes. This month, Sony definitely had the most to crow about, announcing the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One in the US by a significant margin.

“Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong as it was No. 1 in sales for next-gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next-gen competitor, and remains the cumulative leader, according to today’s NPD report,” Sony’s Guy Longworth said in a statement provided to VentureBeat.

“Although PS4 remains severely constrained at retail, we are working hard to refresh supply as quickly as possible.”

Segment by Segment
January 2014 is a five week accounting period, so it ought to have been a bumper month, but in fact even without normalising sales total industry spend was down 1% year-on-year to $664 million. When that figure is adjusted to compensate for the longer sales period, it’s a wince-worthy 21% drop.

That said, hardware did pretty well, with a 17% or 47% normalised climb year-on-year to $241 million, thanks to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. No hard figures were given, but the NPD said the PS4 led sales and that both consoles performed well.

It was software that was the problem. Sales were down 26% year-on-year after normalisation, at $232 million. NPD analyst Liam Callahan said sales of late-year releases a aren’t tailing ans strongly as they have in past years.

“A major factor in the decline in software this month was the slide in performance of November and December 2013 launches during January 2014 compared to how November and December 2012 launches performed in January 2013,” he said.

“These November and December launches collectively decreased 36%, or 20% when normalised to account for the 5-week January 2013.”

A lack of new releases was also an issue.

“There were about half the number of SKUs launched this January versus January 2013, leading to a 52% decrease in sales for new launches (or 39% when normalised),” he added.

“DMC: Devil May Cry and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch were particularly strong launches in January 2013, causing a poor comparison for launches in January 2014.”

Software chart
It was therefore a pretty dull month, charts-wise. A group of heavy-hitting best-sellers squatted stubbornly over the charts as there weren’t nay major new releases to challenge them and inject some new blood. The new version of Tomb Raider did bring Lara back into the top ten though, which is nice to see.

The 3DS didn’t make much of an appearance, but a lot of next-gen titles did.

    January 2014 top 10 games (new physical retail, all platforms including PC)
  1. Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  2. NBA 2K14 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  3. Battlefield 4 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  4. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  5. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PS3, Xbox 360)
  6. Madden NFL 25 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  7. Minecraft (Xbox 360)
  8. FIFA 14 (PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  9. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  10. Tomb Raider (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Before you get all doom-and-gloom about the state of the industry, remember that the NPD’s report only accounts for traditional retail sales. We’ll have a report on the digital side of things shortly, but the NPD estimates that total industry spend including digital purchases, mobile, used games, rental and subscriptions was more like $1.3 billion for the month.

We havern’t received reaction statements from Sony and Nintendo, but Microsoft was pleased to announce the Xbox One is tracking ahead of the Xbox 360.

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