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NPD December: 3DS bestselling hardware of 2013, GTA 5 top game

Xbox One was the best-selling console of its generation in the US in December 2013, but the 3DS won the year overall.

Although the last few months of 2013 were dominated by the battle between Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo had a pair of quiet but not insignificant victories. According to the NPD's latest report, which covers US retail for both December 2013 and 2013 in total, the 3DS was the best-selling bit of hardware for December, and for the year as a whole.

Nevertheless, Microsoft actually had two wins in December, as Xbox 360 and Xbox One both topped their generations in hardware sales, with 643,000 and 908,000 units sold respectively. Xbox's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb revealed the sales figures on Twitter, but they originate with the NPD Group's monthly report.

Xbox One's dominance of the important holiday month is a feather in Microsoft's cap - although it's always enjoyed greater success in North America than other territories. In a press release, Microsoft said the Xbox 360 and Xbox One held a combined total of 46% of the hardware market, a 10% year-on-year increase for the Xbox brand since December 2012.

Total combined retail spend on the Xbox platform reached $1.39 billion, 50% of total combined software, hardware and accessories spend.

Six of the top ten best-selling games were available on Xbox One, and Microsoft's internal data suggests Xbox One owners have purchased an average of 2.9 games since launch.

With all that in mind, and with congratulations to Microsoft, Sony believes it still has the advantage.

"PlayStation 4 remains the cumulative leader for next gen console sales in the U.S. since the launch on November 15," SCEA's Dan Race said in a statement issued to Joystiq.

"We sold every PS4 available at retail in the US and were out of stock in December due to overwhelming consumer demand."

In November, the month both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One - but it had a week's lead. At last tally, Sony's console remained in front with 4.2 million global sales as of January 7, while Xbox One had sold 3 million by the end of 2013.

Full NPD report

During December 2013, the US saw total industry spend of $3.28 billion, up 2% on December 2012 - perhaps not as significant a jump as a new generation might have been expected to produce. Although hardware grew 28% to $1.37 billion, and accessories were up 17% to $1.28 billion, next-gen early adopters didn't buy enough games, as software fell 17% to $1.28 billion.

As for 2013 as a whole, industry spend fell 2% on 2012's figures to $12.97 billion. Hardware sales were up 5% to $4.26 billion, and accessories jumped 3% to $2.6 billion, but software fell 9% percent to $6.12 billion.

After reporting two significant slumps in software, it's worthwhile issuing a reminder that the NPD charts traditional retail sales only - the entire digital realm is outside the scope of this particular report.


As noted above, retail software sales slumped both for December 2013 and 2013 overall. Commenting on the PND's findings, Joost van Dreunan of analyst group Superdata said major releases peaked in the build up to the holiday season, and consumer spend was inhibited by the next-gen transition.

"In December we recorded an increase in digital game spending, driven by the bundled offerings and Black Friday packages, especially on last gen consoles," he added, though, so presumably some traditional retaiul spend is being redirected to digital channels.

Grand Theft Auto 5 slipped down the December charts, replaced by that perennial stocking stuffer Call of Duty, but it still managed to nab top spot as best-selling game of 2013.

Although there are few surprises in either of the blockbuster-ridden charts there are a couple of things worth noting. First, the 3DS is barely visible, despite its strong hardware performance, which isn't a good sign given next-gen hardware hasn't sparked a significant upswing in software which would account for it dominating the charts.

Secondly, note that Minecraft, a platform exclusive retail release of a game available for literal years on other platforms, as well as on the same platform but digitally, was one of the best-selling games of 2013. That's amazing.

Disney announced in the wake of the NPD figures that its Infinity franchise has sold 3 million starter packs worldwide since August. It moved 551,000 units in December, according to The New York Times.

Skylanders SWAP Force sold 597,000 units during December, making it the 10th best-selling game of the month per NPD.

Activision commented on Call of Duty: Ghosts being the number one best-selling title overall in December, stating it was the overall best-selling next-gen title of 2013 on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Call of Duty was the number one franchise for the fifth year in a row in both software units and dollars in the US, according NPD figures cited by Activision, and Skylanders SWAP Force was the number two best-selling title overall in December; Skylanders was the number one best-selling kids video game franchise of 2013 in the US for the second consecutive year, and the number three video game franchise overall for the year in the US, according to the NPD Group and including toys and accessories.

Full charts for both the month of December and 2013 in total are below.

Top ten games - December 2013

  1. Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  2. Battlefield 4 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  3. Just Dance 2014 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox One)
  4. Madden NFL 25 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  5. NBA 2K14 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  6. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  7. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PS3, Xbox 360)
  8. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  9. FIFA 14 (PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  10. Skylanders Swap Force (PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) - 597,000 units

Top ten games - 2013

  1. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PS3, Xbox 360)
  2. Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  3. Madden NFL 25 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  4. Battlefield 4 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  5. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  6. NBA 2K14 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
  8. Just Dance 2014 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox One)
  9. Minecraft (Xbox 360)
  10. Disney Infinity (3DS, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360) - 551,000 units sold in December 2013

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