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Switch gives flagging physical sales a shot in the arm, but Wildlands tops March NPD

Nintendo Switch made March a rosy month indeed for chart trackers, even if Zelda didn't quite make first place.

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Switch had a tremendous impact on the US market last month, according to the latest monthly report from NPD Group.

As previously reported and not at all to anyone's surprise, Switch was the best-selling hardware of the month and Nintendo's fastest-selling US launch ever.

NPD analyst Sam Naji said hardware spending "almost doubled" and that "March 2017 will go down in history books as the month Nintendo broke records".

Nintendo's previous record was the Game Boy Advance's June 2001 launch, but the Switch outsold it by 31,000 units.


March 2017 NPD Software charts

Chart-topper Wildlands had the best Ghost Recon launch ever, and the second best launch for any Tom Clancy title, after The Division. Wildlands is currently the best selling game of 2017 in the US.

While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did not take top honours on the software chart, it came in second behind Ghost Recon: Wildlands - a multi-platform release. For a platform exclusive to hit second place in the charts even during a month with no competition at all is impressive.

It's also very much worth noting that the NPD does not have digital sales data for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (or any of the other titles marked with an asterisk), so it's possible the Switch launch title did even better than the chart-tracker can account for.

Naji said that, counting all the way back to 1995, The Legend of Zelda is the top-selling property of all time within the "adventure super-genre", with over 54% more revenue than the next best-selling franchise, Resident Evil.

"The Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold over 900,000 packaged units in the launch month," the analyst added.

"This resulted with an attach rate of 99% to the Switch hardware. This is the highest attach rate for any non-bundled title for a new gaming platform since NPD began tracking."

Despite only managing one other charting launch title with 1-2-Switch, Nintendo broke records in physical software, too.

“Switch’s packaged software sold 1.3 million units, a record high for a Nintendo platform launch.”

Mass Effect Andromeda came in third, which isn't bad given it released one to two weeks later than the top two titles and was rough as guts before patching.

Horizon Zero Dawn came in fourth. It just missed out on the February NPD tracking period by releasing late in the month, and likewise isn't supported by digital sales data, so again - not bad at all. It's Guerrilla's best release ever with over twice as many launch month sales as Killzone: Shadow Fall.

Nier Automata also charted, which is excellent, because it rules.

    Overall software top 10

  1. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  4. Horizon Zero Dawn*
  5. MLB 17: The Show*
  6. Grand Theft Auto 5
  7. For Honor
  8. NBA 2K17
  9. Nier: Automata
  10. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  11. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  12. Battlefield 1
  13. 1-2 Switch*
  14. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  15. Overwatch
  16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  17. Super Bomberman R*
  18. Fifa 17
  19. Lego Worlds
  20. Madden NFL 17

    Xbox One software top 10

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  3. For Honor
  4. NBA 2K17
  5. Grand Theft Auto 5
  6. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  7. Battlefield 1
  8. Halo Wars 2
  9. Overwatch
  10. Forza Horizon 3

    PlayStation 4

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn*
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  4. MLB 17: The Show*
  5. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  6. Nier: Automata
  7. Grand Theft Auto 5
  8. NBA 2K17
  9. For Honor
  10. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

    Nintendo Switch

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  2. 1-2 Switch*
  3. Super Bomberman R*
  4. Just Dance 2017*
  5. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth +*
  6. Skylanders: Imaginators*

    Wii U

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD*
  3. Super Smash Bros.*
  4. Minecraft*
  5. Paper Mario: Color Splash*
  6. Pokken Tournament*
  7. New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U*
  8. Super Mario Maker*
  9. Yoshi’s Wooly World*
  10. Splatoon*


  1. Pokemon Sun*
  2. Pokemon Moon*
  3. Super Mario Maker*
  4. Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World*
  5. Mario Sports Superstars*
  6. Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns*
  7. Super Smash Bros.*
  8. Mario Kart 7*
  9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D*
  10. New Super Mario Bros. 2*

    Top 10 best-selling games of 2017 as of March

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. For Honor
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  5. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  6. Grand Theft Auto 5
  7. Horizon Zero Dawn
  8. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  9. NBA 2K17
  10. Battlefield 1


General March 2017 NPD results

Thanks to the launch of the Switch, total industry spend for the US in March rose 24% year-on-year to $1.36 billion.

Hardware rose 91% to $485 million, and console software climbed 5% to $612 million. Software sales declined year-on-year for nine months in a row prior to the Switch's launch, so retailers must be excited to see a little uptick.

It wasn't all good news, as PC software fell 25% to $29 million. However, accessories grew 9% to $231 million thanks to Switch peripherals. Switch-related accessories accounted for 25% of the total category's sales. Control pads alone grew 26% due to demand for the Switch Pro Controller.

Amiibo sales jumped 56% year on year thanks to Breath of the Wild, while the rest of the interactive toy category crumbled around it, dropping 38% in total. Sorry, Skylanders.

As ever with these reports, bear in mind that digital sales are spanking boxed sales, especially in the US.

The NPD's monthly reports track new physical sales and limited digital data in the US only, so it doesn't account for the money pouring into games through many digital sales as well as used sales, rentals, subscriptions, mobile and all the other ways developers make cash these days.

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