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BioShock, Tomb Raider can't save March US sales from 10% decline

Update: BioShock Infinite sold 878,000 units on console during the month

The NPD Group has released its retail sales report for the month of March, and while some analysts had predicted growth, it was not to be. Total industry sales fell 10 percent year-on-year to $992.5 million, as hardware sales fell 32 percent to $221.6 million, but total software sales (including PC games) inched up two percent to $602.4 million.

That two percent climb actually represents "the first month since November 2011 where retail spending on entertainment software experienced positive growth,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan noted.

"The performance of new launches was a major driver of the overall software growth for this month, with games launching in March 2013 selling over 40 percent more units than new launches in March 2012. There were positive trends for new launches that were seen across consoles, portables, and PC," he continued. “There were actually fewer new launches - about 20 percent less new games - than last March, but March 2013 launches generated close to 70 percent more dollar sales per SKU than last year.”

NPD's March reporting period spanned five weeks, but so did March 2012. The industry just needed some more hits, as Callahan said. Irrational's critically acclaimed BioShock Infinite led the charge on software, followed by the new Tomb Raider and Microsoft's latest Gears of War. Nintendo also made an appearance with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon placing sixth.

Interestingly, the launches of Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite "were the highest first month sales for games in these franchises,” Callahan said.

Update: Number one game BioShock Infinite sold 878,000 units on home consoles during the month, according to data supplied by Cowen and Company. The analysts now expect the game to be on track to sell 4.5 million units (including PC sales) for its first year on sale.

Here's the top 10 chart from NPD:

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Latest comments (15)

Without digital sales, these numbers are slightly skewed and. Perhaps there was no change except change in people's purchasing habits
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
That's precisely why I stopped listening to most retail analysts. They often cite doom and gloom for the console rather than where the reduced retail sales are actually a problem...retailers.

They also seems to have a very hard time understanding the console sales cycle. Or at the least they have memories that fail to reach beyond 6 years ago.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
Honestly Game prices are too high. If they were around 30$ t0 40$ dollars they would be easier to pick up. Some games are released at that price and are easier to pick, many of the SONY collections, Sly Cooper, KillZone, God of War came out at 4. Ninja Gaiden razors Edge for PS3 came out at $40 and i picked it up immediatly. Anarchy Reigns came out at $30. Had Bioshock and Tomb Raider came out at similar prices, i would have picked them up. But I usually wait till prices drop. And this whole thing with DLC, also makes me wait to see if they are going to release a GOTY edition with everything in it. Games are expensive. its 2 games for for 120$ or if you wait you get 6 games for $120... brand new, cause prices drop. All these games, Bioshock 1 and 2, dead space 1 and 2, Tekken6, sould calibur 4 and 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, God of War 3... can all be purchased at $20 brand new. I know alot of these games are old. But not everyone can afford to buy every game at 60$... and bioshock comes with an season pass which is an additional fee, add taxes to that and games turn out to cost way more than 60$... And the thing is the production value of most of the older games isnt 100 million. I say its the fault of the developers and they dont know how to use their resources. The more money they make the more money they burn through. Sometimes you just got to find a way to achive the same results with less. To make a game at that costs 100million dollars to make and expect 10million units to be sold is shooting yourself in the foot. 1 million copies is a huge achivment for most games, but expecting to sell 10 million??? Yeah thats financial suicide. And games look to penny the shit outta you, $60+season Pass+ingame purchases+DLC+taxes=equels the real cost. And people arent stupid, they know companies are jerking customers out of there cash, and honestly alot of gamers are sick of it. I personally will eventually purchase Tomb raider and Bioshock, they are must have games. just not now.

Isnt new technology supposed to make making games easier and streamline development?

Tomb Raider sells over 4 million copies in just a few weeks. I say thats a succesful game, however if they expected to sell 10 million well i guess good luck to that or wait a while.. And I think the game itself is succesful, alot of people I know have it., what is messed up is the business aspect of it. So what the next tomb raider game is gonna cost 200million to make and they are going to expect 20million units sold???

Where is game development going?

Just crazy. lower the price and more people might have picked it up. I know its a game Id love to have.

Anyway, Im just making a few points, not stating that I know anything regarding the development of Bioshock and Tomb raider.
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Show all comments (15)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
@ Andreas

Madness. Though spare a thought for New Zealanders. They have to pay up to 110 USD for some game on day of release. :o
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Robert Ilott Build & CM Engineer, Criterion Games8 years ago
To be honest I don't think prices are too much of an issue - digitally. I picked up Infinite and it's season pass before the game was released via Steam for about 30. Which is more game to money value than anything you'd see in the shops. Even the supermarkets around here are still selling the PC version for around 40. Let's not even discuss Game's prices of nearly 50...

To not include digital sales figures basically makes these numbers utterly useless these days.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
@ Robert

Generally I think you're correct (certainly about the lack of digital sales figures), but prices... Well... That figure I give up there ^ for New Zealand games is for buying certain games on Steam. Australian digital prices are pretty high too. So it does vary, and certainly the prices for games aren't equivalent to each-other throughout the world, even after taking into account VAT and sales taxes. Much like purchasing hardware, certain countries do seem out of step when you do a rough "currency conversion + sales tax" calculation. (Obviously, this excludes Eastern Europe/Russia, where the point is to market to the lower pay scale to prevent piracy).
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers8 years ago
It's difficult to imagine a scenario where digital sales (which are still a fraction of the AAA market right now) are making up for the double digit losses that are being suffered year over year for the past four years.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
Well, that depends upon market, surely? In the console arena, you're probably right. But for PC? The local HMV has one stand of PC games. WHSmith don't sell any games anymore. Game are overpriced (and have a whole 2 racks of PC titles). Which leaves online retailers, which mostly means Amazon, and... digital.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 19th April 2013 9:33pm

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 8 years ago
I've still got plenty to finish from racking up loads of good deals on Steam.

I've been telling myself not to buy a lot of titles which I'm interested in recently!
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ David I don't know about that. Steam, for example, is experiencing 100% growth year over year, and the 3DS has 20%-30% of software sales for many titles digitally. There's a solid argument that these numbers are pretty far from telling the whole story, or even a relevant story of the state of the industry.
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@Andreas; @Morville

Here I thought 60+ dollars was expensive!
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Oh yeah and in my book Tomb Raider is doing spectacularly well. Cmon 4 million units shipped (at least!) Isnt that beyond platinum already!!! in the end its all bout perspective - and I'm hoping the console based developers/publishers are not trying to compare/outdo $0.99 social/casual unit sales. Its like comparing a pitchfork vs a thimble or..err A380 vs a hummingbird or a free app of the day to a limited edition deluxe game box set (I wonder what the profit/break even numbers are for these collector editions)
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Supercell is earning $2.4 million a day from just two games.
Angry Birds exceeded a billion downloads by September last year.
As of December 2012, there are nearly 2000 games available through Steam, and 54 million active user accounts. As of January 2013, Steam has seen over 6.6 million concurrent players.
DeNA Revenue were 1.8 billion USD (FY 2012)
GREE recorded net sales of 39.4 billion and operating profit of 14.2 billion for the second quarter ended December 31, 2012.
Xbox LIVE now has over 46 million members worldwide.
As of April 8, 2013, Minecraft has sold over 10 million copies on PC and as of January 22, 2013, over 20 million copies across all platforms.

The world has changed. Boxed product is declining rapidly into a niche.
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This olde ding dong again Bruce....:)
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers8 years ago
Console sales still wag the dog in the AAA gaming industry, and while Steam has recouperated PC sales, that's not been enough to stop executive departures and prominent games missing sales milestones. Retail isn't the whole picture of the industry anymore, of course, but there's no reason to be severely optimistic in a month that was stacked with prominent new releases and has a whole new console that wasn't there last year and doesn't beat last year's total.
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