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NPD Reports Gaming Hardware and Software Sales are Down

By - Source: VG247 | B 15 comments

2012 is yet another down year for the gaming industry.

2012 has not been kind to retail, as evidenced by NPD Group's latest report for December 2012. However, NPD's data does not include digital sales (there's no way to accurately record the data), which would surely cushion the software numbers and make them a little less depressing to look at.

The report states that December saw a year-on-year decrease in industry spending, down 22 percent at $3.21 billion. 2012 overall was a year of tighter belts for the industry, as the year overall also experienced at 22 percent decrease in spending, down to $13.26 billion from $17 billion.

Hardware and software sales for 2012 both dropped 27 percent, for a spending of $4.04 billion and $7.09 billion respectively. The rest of the $13.26 billion in spending went to gaming accessories, which are also down 8 percent.

The numbers slowdown can no doubt be attributed to the fact that both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are coming to the end of their life cycles. There's been relatively few new IPs to rejuvenate the markets. Developers are all awaiting the arrival of the Orbis and Durango to announce new projects.

On a lighter note, Nintendo's enjoying a successful Wii U launch so far, raking in profits bigger than it did with the launch of the original Wii. After the holiday period, NPD reports that Nintendo's Wii U raked in over $300 million in profits in 41 days, higher than the $270 million that Nintendo brought in from the Wii. On the handheld side, the 3DS continues to perform well, selling 1.25 million units during the last month of 2012, bringing its overall tally to 7.7 million units sold.

Most of the industry's top selling titles of the year came from late 2012, which is no surprise, as developers and publishers have strategically packed holiday release schedule in an effort to pad numbers with gift purchases. The top selling titles of December 2012 and the year overall are both included below. Keep in mind that this list does not include digital downloads:

Top Ten Games December 2012 (new physical retail, all platforms

  1. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Wii U, X360)
  2. Just Dance 4 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  3. Halo 4 (X360)
  4. Assassin’s Creed 3 (PC, PS3, Wii U, X360)
  5. Madden NFL 13 (PS3, PSV, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  6. Far Cry 3 (PC, PS3, X360)
  7. NBA 2K13 (PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  8. Skylanders Giants (3DS, PS3, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  9. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
  10. (FIFA Soccer 13 (3DS, PS3, PSP, PSP, Wii, Wii U, X360)

Top Ten Games 2012 (new physical retail, all platforms)

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Wii U, X360)
  2. Maddeen NFL 13 (PS3, PSV, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  3. Halo 4 (X360)
  4. Assassin’s Creed 3 (PC, PS3, Wii U, X360)
  5. Just Dance 4 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  6. NBA 2K13 (PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, Wii U< X360)
  7. Borderlands 2(PC, PS3, X360)
  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, X360)
  9. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (3DS, DS, PC, PS3, PSV, Wii, X360)
  10. FIFA Soccer 13 (3DS, PS3, PSP, PSV, Wii, Wii U, X360)


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  • 5 Hide
    joytech22 , January 14, 2013 3:25 AM
    I have a feeling it'll pick up again, just not in the way people are expecting.

    We've all become fairly bored with the same old experiences, PC is really the only different platform but suffers from huge amounts of fragmentation and developers just aren't willing to develop to the same standard for PC as they are for console (except Crytek and BF3 devs, Metro etc..).

    We have the platform that can support any technology and any amount all at once (PC) but nobody is taking advantage of such a gigantic market because nobody's quite figured out how yet.

    What we need is an icebreaker, gentlemen.
  • -2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 14, 2013 3:53 AM
    Prediction: It'll pick up in 2014, after the XBOX 720 and PS4 are released. We won't have to worry about low end console ports, then. They can't possibly have a SmartPhone capable of playing the PC version of Crysis 3 on its highest settings by then. Maybe they will by 2020. When they do, this will doom the Desktop PC. Companies which sell docking solutions (Monitors, keyboards, mice) will still profit.
  • 5 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , January 14, 2013 4:21 AM
    Software is down because NPD only tracks physical sales. Digital sales are going up while Physical sales are going down. Hardware sales are down because the console makers decided to try and milk this generation too long. You can tell it's too long because the 6 years old hardware simply cannot handle the graphics of the latest games, which is why several recent games fail to even meet 30 fps average (some hit minimums as low as 18 fps).
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    goodguy713 , January 14, 2013 4:46 AM
    JOSHSKORNPrediction: It'll pick up in 2014, after the XBOX 720 and PS4 are released. We won't have to worry about low end console ports, then. They can't possibly have a SmartPhone capable of playing the PC version of Crysis 3 on its highest settings by then. Maybe they will by 2020. When they do, this will doom the Desktop PC. Companies which sell docking solutions (Monitors, keyboards, mice) will still profit.

    ehh they will just move to 4k resolutions by that time and we will still have our pc's in hand ... although to be honest i would rather like to have actual virtual reality games like battle field 3 or call of duty something like that or even halo 4 .. just saying that would be something really awesome .. and the more realistic the better.. so we still have a long way to go ..
  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , January 14, 2013 5:23 AM
    I buy lots of copies of games. However They have to have LAN and they have to be kid friendly since I'm playing with my young nieces and nephews. Since most of the games have got to an M standard for coop play, my spending has been forced to decrease.

    Also, waiting for HD 8000 to see how it comes out before I buy a new card.
  • 2 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 14, 2013 7:20 AM
    Just another report soon to be screwed and purposely misinterpreted to justify DRM, banning used games, and new laws restricting Fair Use.
  • 1 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , January 14, 2013 11:22 AM
    They do not make it attractive to buy gaming hardware anymore. Not as far as graphics cards are concerned. Why would I pay big bucks now to upgrade just to raise my FPS from 70 to 150 at ultra settings. And my graphics card is more than a year old.

    Not saying the problem is with the hardware manufacturers, but I think there was a miscalculation between where gaming software would be vs hardware somewhere along the line. Software simply cannot keep up with the hardware the way they've been going.
  • 1 Hide
    Soda-88 , January 14, 2013 12:03 PM
    Who still buys physical copies on a PC anyway... and the hardware sales are down because most games are console ports made for 5+ years old tech and/or developers want their games to be playable on low end machines to boost the sales, so there's no need to upgrade gaming PCs.
    Sadly most of those developers don't know how to make an engine that can run at 60 fps with lowest settings on a 6-7 years old PC and still strain the rigs equipped with 7970/680 like for example, Starcraft II does. I can play it on my Athlon 64 x2 4200+/GF 7900GS at 720p/60fps with lowest settings and it still doesn't let me crank it up to full Ultra w/ AA at 1080p on a massively overclocked i5 760/GTX 460 outside 1v1 games.
    Also the difference between Low and Ultra in SC2 is so big, someone might think they're different games. But hey, SC2 is a PC-only game which would explain a lot of things I said.
  • 2 Hide
    bucknutty , January 14, 2013 1:55 PM
    I bought 2 games at retail stores in 2012, and like 10 digital downloads. If they can't track digital they are waisting time.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2013 3:50 PM
    The reason why sales are dwindling is quite simple. The Xbox 360 was released in late 2005. Yes kids, 2005! 8 years ago!

    Even when it was released, it was not state of the art hardware running in the platform. The gaming industry pushes the hardware industry, and it always has. The problem is with console gaming, now you have a platform that everyone has in their home, static, un-upgradable. Developers want to make the most amount of money so instead of offering games that push the boundaries of hardware, with few exceptions, they instead create for the masses.

    Have this run on for 6-8 years and guess what, that PC owner who is playing console ported games does not need to upgrade. That person with that Xbox 360, does not need a new one.

    I used to marvel at high end games when I was able to save up enough money to upgrade my machine. I literally bought games just to see how beautiful they looked and how well they challenged my new hardware, now, I don't.
  • 0 Hide
    Fulgurant , January 14, 2013 5:42 PM
    hastenNPD is basically irrelevant in the current environment. If they aren't measuring digital distribution, how can they make any valid claim. I bought 15 or so games this year, all of them digital distribution...

    Heh, yeah, seems like a pointless observation. "Game sales are down if we exclude the fastest-growing marketplace for games." In other news, water is wet.

    The other mildly amusing quirk to this story, to me, is that hardware sales and PC game sales really aren't all that complementary of one another. In the abstract, sure; developers probably do like to see and work with cutting edge hardware, but game publishers' bottom line has almost nothing in common with the bottom line of gaming hardware vendors. The most successful games are often the easiest to run on a wide range of hardware; that's not an accident.

    To put it another way, skilled game developers explicitly try to optimize their software so that it will run as well as possible on lower-end machines. So in a sense, game developers are actively opposed to hardware manufacturers, not just financially indifferent to them.
  • 0 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 14, 2013 7:14 PM
    yea... AAA titles topped moved from $49.95 to $59.95... i used to buy on release games i was excited about, but $50 for a game was the max point, I am not the only one in my group of gamers who play together that dropped off after the price changes, we still play together but now wait a few months for things to drop like halo 4 is now $39.95... reasonable so bought it, borderlands 2 $30 on steam a few weeks back, done. devs need a reality check i hope sales of AAA title stay low and they will realize they have priced themselves out of the market and adjust down accordingly
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2013 8:06 PM
    Thank God for PC gaming, consoles were at the end of their cycles a couple of years ago in my opinion. But Sony and Microsoft keep re packaging them with new games and thinner making people think its some new console when its the same old 2006 tech. Even when the new consoles come in a year they will be outdated when compared to even current high end PC tech standards.
  • 0 Hide
    master9716 , January 15, 2013 12:29 PM
    The real problem is this : companys are taking to long to develpo and release games that push hardware and visual limits. This is what drove hardware and gaming before . BF3 pushed the limits for a bit only , But then you have games like Farcry 3 wich take up so much hardware power but have nothing to show for . They need to figure out a way to develop games faster
  • 0 Hide
    upgrade_1977 , January 15, 2013 5:29 PM
    Nobody believes NPD....