Grand Theft Auto V best-selling game of 2013 - NPD

Rockstar's latest snaps Call of Duty's four-year streak atop US retail chart as industry sales shrink by 2%

The industry-tracking NPD Group released its US retail sales figures for December and 2013 as a whole today, marking an end to the Call of Duty series' four-year run atop the annual best-seller charts. The first non-Call of Duty game to claim the top spot since 2008's Wii Play bundle was Grand Theft Auto V.

The changing of the guard isn't entirely surprising, as Rockstar Games' latest open-world crime game launched to the biggest single-day sales in gaming history, breaking a mark previously held (and broken, then held again) by the Call of Duty series. The latest entry in the franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts, was the second best-selling game of 2013, with Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14, and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag rounding out the top five.

Despite being dislodged from the top spot on the full-year chart, Call of Duty still earned some bragging rights as Ghosts was the best-selling game of December. It was followed on the monthly chart by its closest competitor in the genre, Battlefield 4, and a trio of more mainstream titles: Just Dance 2014, Madden NFL 25, and NBA 2K14.

As for the industry as a whole, the NPD reported that full-year sales in 2013 were down 2 percent to $12.97 billion. Breaking that number down, new platforms like the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and 2DS helped push hardware sales up 5 percent to $4.26 billion, while software sales slipped 9 percent to $6.12 billion. Accessories (which include Skylanders and Disney Infinity toys, as well as cards loaded with currency for online storefronts), were up 3 percent to $2.6 billion.

Looking at the numbers from just December, overall industry sales were up 2 percent to $3.28 billion. Most of that growth was attributable to hardware, which was up a whopping 28 percent to $1.37 billion. Accessories were also up 4 percent to $631 million, but most of those gains were offset by software sales that dropped 17 percent to $1.28 billion.

Xbox Live director of programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb offered some color on those December figures through his Twitter account, saying Xbox One and Xbox 360 were the best-selling consoles of each generation during December. Xbox One sold 908,000 systems, Hryb said, while Xbox 360 moved 643,000.

NPD analyst Liam Callahan said that Sony still has the early lead among the new systems, though. “The newest consoles from Microsoft and Sony are off to a tremendous start. Xbox One led consoles sales in December, while PS4's two-month total makes it the best selling console during the two-month launch window,” he clarified.

Also, it's clear that the launch of a new generation of consoles has given the industry a lift - Callahan noted that December "marks the fifth month in a row for positive combined physical video game sales across hardware, software, and accessories."

As for hardware not from Microsoft or Sony, NPD noted that Nintendo 3DS was the top selling system both in December and 2013 overall, while the Wii U managed to have its best month on the market yet.

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Latest comments (4)

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
Used Neogaf to help total up Xbox One sales for 2013 and see how badly Microsoft lied. We have:
France: 50k
Germany: 100k
Spain: 28k
US: 1817K
UK: 364K

The only "major" markets with unrevealed sales numbers in which the Xbox One is available are Canada (usually roughly 10% of the US sales), Australia, and Italy. In other words Microsoft likely exaggerated their 3 million sold through claim by somewhere around half a million units, putting the sales of the Xbox One right about in line with the Wii U at this time last year.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 17th January 2014 12:41am

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Xbox Live director of programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb offered some color on those December figures through his Twitter account, saying Xbox One and Xbox 360 were the best-selling consoles of each generation during December. Xbox One sold 908,000 systems, Hryb said, while Xbox 360 moved 643,000.
While the 360 sales shouldn't have surprised anyone the XBO sales that had it best the PS4 for December probably surprised most people, except me. Microsoft still has a very strong market share here in the US, despite all of their earlier PR blunders with the XBO reveal. But more importantly, as someone who regularly works in Gamestop, Target, Best Buy, Walmart and TRU(among others) it became very clear during the holidays that Microsoft did a much better job of resupplying their retail partners with systems to sell after both systems sold out during their launch weeks. I have no idea how much they outsold the PS4 but rather it was by a 100 systems or 100,000 systems it could have been nullified had Sony gotten more consoles into the supply chain. I still think the PS4 is the system to beat this gen, even here in the US.

Regardless, both still did extremely well for their first holiday season and things will only get better for Sony once they get production to the point where you can go to a store and find systems on shelves at any given time. Add to this the fact that both will start receiving more first and third party games during the next few months(Titanfall, Infamouse: SS, Watchdogs, etc) and I think that these two systems are probably going to sell much better than people thought a $400 and $500 system could sell in this economic climate. Of course the real litmus test happens now that the holiday season is over. But as already mentioned, they have started preparing for this with their respective upcoming game releases for first and second quarter 2014.

The final piece to the puzzle I'd like to see(now that the holidays are over) are Wii U sales for October thru December, not only in comparison to XBO and PS4 but also to 360, PS3 and Wii sales. Just curious to see where Nintendo's new console stands these days.
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Pete Thompson Editor 8 years ago
GTAV is an exceptional game. As for next Gen sales figures I'm sure both Sony and MS could be guilty of inflating figures.. I'm sure the sales lead will change once people realise that they may need to buy the PS camera for a lot of PS4 games..

I can see why Call of Duty series continues to sell more than Battlefield. Both Battlefiled 3 & 4 were released in a pretty unstable state.. BF4 is still hard to get an online game on almost any platform, and if you do manage to get a game online you may end up being booted out with a server disconnection.. The short single player campaign is still full of bugs aswell.. ( I can't believe they dropped Medal of Honor to concentrate on Battlefield).

As for Nintendo, in all honesty I fail to see that they have anything in their IP library that appeals to many adult gamers, and I can see why a lot of developers are dropping the Wii-U..
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Pete I think that's a pretty crazy assumption. Just as no devs care about using Kinect (despite it being standard hardware), no devs care about using the PS4 Camera. Indeed it's far more likely that that Microsoft throws in the "everyone wants Kinect" towel this year and we get a Kinect-free bundle by holiday 2014. They'll have to if they want to cover the extremely large sales gap that will develop between the Xbox One and the PS4.

As for Nintendo's adult appeal, Fire Emblem, Zelda, Metroid, and Xenoblade/X are all pretty clearly targeted to that audience. M rated games sell largely to teenagers (and to some extent immature adults); particularly shooters like Call of Duty and Gears of War. Indeed Nintendo's biggest problem is a lack of appeal to the very large 11-18 teenage boy market, which almost exclusively buys Madden and M rated games. They spend more money on games than most adults and tend to spread the "kiddy" stories across the internet. They're one of the most active gaming demographics, and Nintendo has very little appeal with them.
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