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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was the best-selling game of 2016 despite all your protests - but Battlefield 1 was hot on its heels

Call of Duty won the year. Again.


Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare predictably topped both the December 2016 and 2016 full year charts in the latest edition of NPD Group's monthly report, which tracks new sales in the US only.

The NPD's Mat Piscatella said this is the ninth consecutive year Call of Duty has topped the all-formats December sales chart.

Battlefield 1 came in second place, and actually generated 10% more dollar revenue than Star Wars Battlefront in December 2015 - a pretty amazing feat given the latter's brand recognition.

Looking at individual platform charts, however, Final Fantasy 15 was the best-selling game on PS4, and enjoyed the "best console launch month in the history of the franchise" with 19% more new physical units sold than Final Fantasy 13, and 54% more in total dollar revenue including digital.

In portables, the winner was, of course, Pokemon Sun and Moon. The NPD said the twin games have sold over 4.21 million units life to date, which is the best the franchise has done since 2007's Pokemon Diamond and Pearl combined with 4.25 million units. Let's see if Sun and Moon can overtake it.

NPD software top ten December 2016

Here's the NPD's chart for the month of December 2016. It's worth noting that Pokemon Sun and Moon both charted individually rather than as a combined title, and that the NPD doesn't have access to digital sales data on Nintendo titles. The RPG may well have been an even bigger deal than the chart suggests, then.

You'll notice Watch Dogs 2 held its place in the chart despite a lot of murmuring about its performance after its November release. It didn't turn up in the full-year chart but it's certainly not a non-entity.

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  2. Final Fantasy 15 (PS4, Xbox One)
  3. Battlefield 1 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  4. Madden NFL 17 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  5. NBA 2K17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  6. Watch Dogs 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  7. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  8. Pokemon Sun (3DS)
  9. FIFA 17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  10. Pokemon Moon (3DS)

NPD software top ten full year 2016

This chart is for 2016 as a whole. As usual, sports games and shooters dominated the full-year charts, and Grand Theft Auto 5 refuses to give up its hold. The long sales tail on Call of Duty each year means Black Ops 3 inevitably made an appearance.

Don't be too concerned for Final Fantasy 15 in last place; it released very late in the year, and did so well on the December chart, that it's probably doing just fine as its sales tail extends through January and beyond.

Again, the NPD doesn't have digital sales info for Battle.net titles, so Overwatch may rank much more highly than the chart suggests.

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  2. Battlefield 1 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  3. The Division (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  4. NBA 2K17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  5. Madden NFL 17 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  6. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  7. Overwatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  9. FIFA 17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  10. Final Fantasy 15 (PS4, Xbox One)


PS4 dominates hardware in 2016

As previously reported, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in December 2016.

The NPD said the PS4 Slim 500GB Uncharted 4 bundle was the best-selling console of the month with 1.2 million sales, while the PS4 Pro accounted for 18% of all November and December PS4 sales.

Meanwhile, the Xbox One enjoyed a good month with a 10% unit sales increase, and Nintendo shifted "an additional 4% of 3DS systems thanks to the heightened demand for Pokemon".

Unfortunately, this did not translate to dollar growth as the lower prices of hardware a few years on can't stack up with figures generated closer to launch.

"Although the combined ARP for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 systems decreased by 15%, consumers bought 7% fewer units," Piscatella said.

As a result, overall hardware sales for the month fell 20% year-on-year, while hardware sales for the full year fell 24% on 2015's figures.

General figures

Total industry spend for the month of December fell 15% year-on-year to $2.78 billion.

Console and portable software fell 12% to $1.19 billion, while PC software fell 13% to $45.3 million. Hardware fell 20% to $994.9 million, and accessories dropped 15% to $547.6 million.

For the year total, industry spend spend fell 12% from 2015's figures, to $12.1 billion.

Console and portable software fell 6% to $5.79 billion, while PC software grew 5% to $333.8 million. Hardware fell 24% to 3.68 billion, and accessories dropped 6% to $2.35 billion.

Just to touch on accessories, the NPD said the toys-to-life category saw a whopping 50% decline which was largely responsible for the overall category drop. Only LEGO Dimensions saw growth, with Skylanders, Disney Infinity and Amiibo all drying up. Trend over?

As ever, bear in mind that these figures are missing stacks of revenue sources for the games industry as a whole - many digital sources, used game sales, rentals and more - so they don't paint as grim a picture as all the declines suggest.

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Brenna Hillier avatar

Brenna Hillier


Based in Australia and having come from a lengthy career in the Aussie games media, Brenna worked as VG247's remote Deputy Editor for several years, covering news and events from the other side of the planet to the rest of the team. After leaving VG247, Brenna retired from games media and crossed over to development, working as a writer on several video games.