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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 12, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Game sales jump as Xbox One, PS4 spar over who has biggest launch

Research firm NPD today released the first independent tally of video game sales during the humongous launches of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4.


Sony jumped the gun on NPD’s announcement, saying that the PS4 was the “top selling” next-generation platform in November with more than 1 million units sold in 24 hours in North America.

A half-hour later Microsoft released its early take on the closely watched NPD report, saying that the Xbox One was the “fastest selling console on the market in the U.S.” with 909,132 units sold in its first nine days on the market.

Finally NPD clarified that Sony had a bigger launch and the highest first month of game hardware sales on record. But Microsoft sold more consoles on average, per week. In the words of NPD analyst Liam Callahan:

“PlayStation 4 sales included an additional week within the November data month compared to Xbox One. When looking at sales on an average per-week basis, Xbox One led PS4. Keep in mind, however, that supply typically becomes constrained in the second week after launch.”

We’ll have to wait for a full month of sales – or a year – before we know whose console reigns supreme.

Altogether sales of physical games, hardware and accessories rose 7 percent last month in the U.S., to $2.74 billion.

Hardware sales rose 58 percent — to $1.33 billion — over the same period last year. It was the best November on record for game hardware sales, according to NPD.

Sales of packaged game software fell 24 percent, perhaps because gamers spent their monthly allowance on new hardware.

Here are the top selling games last month. None are console exclusives:

Call Of   Duty: Ghosts
Battlefield 4
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black   Flag
Madden NFL 25
Grand Theft Auto V
NBA 2K14
Skylanders SWAP Force
Just Dance 2014
Disney Infinity

Nintendo joined the boasting match, announcing that its hardware sales grew by 100 percent over October sales.

Nintendo’s gain included a 340 percent jump in Wii U console sales, suggesting that it’s still in the game a year after its relatively slow launch. Nintendo’s 3DS handheld sold nearly 770,000 units, bringing the platform’s overall sales to almost 10.5 million units.

Sony reveled in the higher NPD tally. Last time around the PS3’s slower launch helped the Xbox 360 hold a lead through most of the previous generation.

“PlayStation 4 sales in North America and worldwide have been incredibly strong since launch, culminating in PS4 being recognized as the largest console launch in history. In North America alone, more than one million PS4 units were sold in only 24 hours, and we’re pleased NPD has reported that PS4 was the top selling next gen platform for both hardware and software in November,” Jack Tretton, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in a release.

Microsoft retaliated by providing more details in its early release, and touting overall sales on the Xbox One platform.

U.S. consumers spent $1.21 billion on the Xbox One platform in November — the most for any console in the country, according to Microsoft. Five of the top 10 console titles last month were for the Xbox One or Xbox 360.

Microsoft asserted that the 101,000 consoles it sold per day were “significantly outpacing the nearest competitor.”

Also disclosed is the Xbox One attach rate. Owners bought an average of 2.1 games per console last month, meaning the average buyer invested more than $600 in the platform in the U.S. — $500 for the hardware plus about $120 on games.



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