NPD has released a complete estimate for total US games spending in 2011 - including digital sales - with the preliminary figure expected to hit somewhere between $16.3 and $16.6 billion.
Industry dips 2% year-over-year
The estimate, containing both physical and digital formats, is a 2% drop compared to total spend on "new physical video and PC games, used games, game rentals, subscriptions, digital full-game downloads, social network games, downloadable content, and mobile games" in 2010.
Based on this estimate, US retail sales of new physical content will hit around $9.3 billion, which is an 8% decline over the $10.1 billion generated in 2010. HD console software sales were up 9% during 2011. Also increased was spend on used games, full-game digital downloads and general DLC.
“Overall industry results are not entirely surprising given that we are on the back end of the current console lifecycle, combined with the continued digital evolution of gaming," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
"Core gamers continue to be engaged and spend on established franchises across both the digital and physical format using multiple devices for different gaming occasions."
A final estimate of the total consumer spend on the games industry will be released in March.
PS3 and Wii neck and neck in 2011
"Sales across all categories for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were up 5% for 2011," added Fraizer. "Combined, the two platforms picked up 9 share points in total sales versus 2010. The Xbox 360 was the best-selling platform for the year, and the two HD platforms (360 and PS3) were the two platforms to realize a unit sales increase over last year.
"All other platforms declined in unit sales versus 2010, save the 3DS which wasn’t in market last year. Despite larger percentage decreases versus last year, the Wii and the PS3 were neck and neck in second place for Annual 2011.”
Microsoft responded to NPD's estimates tonight, stating that Xbox 360 ended 2011 as the "best-selling current-generation console in the US," by outselling the second place console by more than 2.7 million units.
Microsoft ended the year with $6.7 billion in sales, $2.1 billion of which was spent on Xbox 360 and $4.6 billion of it on games and accessories.
Accessories declined in 2011, and NPD attributed this to the performance of Kinect and Move during Q4. One "bright spot" noted was the performance of headsets, which were up 18% in sales year-over-year.
Software sales drop in 2011
The preliminary estimate for other monetization methods by which consumers acquire games content was $7.24 billion for 2011, an increase of 7% over 2010. The increase in these areas "partially offset the decline in new physical retail sales of content in 2011," according to Fraizer.
Total spend on content was down approximately 2% in 2011.
Modern Warfare 3 was the top selling software title for both December and for the year, with two Call of Duty and Just Dance titles landing in the overall top 10 for 2011.
According to NPD data, if you combine software and character bundles for Skylanders, the title would have landed in fourth place for December and in eleventh place during 2011.
Software sales for HD consoles were up 9% for the total year with PS3 and Xbox 360 having the "highest tie ratios" for the year in terms of software units sold divided by platform install base through the end of 2011.
“While unit sales are down less than dollar sales in the software category, the average retail price of software was down over 10% in December versus last year," said Frazier. "This could indicate that aggressive promotions which lowered the average retail price did not spur an increase of unit sales the way they were intended to do.”
Top 10 games of 2011
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)
- Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3)
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)
- Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
- Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, Wii, NDS, PC)
- Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3, PC)
- Gears of War 3 (360)
- Just Dance 2 (Wii)
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations (360, PS3, PC)