Just over 90,000 games consoles were sold in the UK for the four weeks ending May 1st, 2021, according to GfK Entertainment.
It's a sharp drop of 59% over the same period in 2020. Of course, April 2020 was the first full month of the original lockdown in the UK, and that had an immediate effect on sales of games, consoles and accessories.
In April 2020, games consoles sales spiked 230% in units (and 192% in revenue) compared with the year before due to the lockdown. Therefore, the drop of 59% last month isn't as severe as it may seem.
Nintendo Switch was comfortably the best-selling console of April 2021, unseating PS5. There was a significant drop in PS5 console stock last month, and in fact PS4 was April's best-selling PlayStation machine.
Xbox Series machines saw more units come to market, and was the second best-selling platform for the month behind Switch. Nintendo Switch and PS5 are currently neck-and-neck in terms of sales during 2021, with Xbox Series fast catching up.
It was also a good month for Nintendo in terms of the physical games market (Nintendo currently doesn't share digital download data). According to GfK figures, Nintendo accounted for almost a third (32.5%) of all physical games sold in the UK last month. Switch games (including non-Nintendo games) accounted for practically half the market (49.6%). The best-selling boxed game of the month was Nintendo Switch exclusive New Pokémon Snap, despite only being on sale for two days during this reporting period.
Overall, physical game sales fell 41% last month compared with the same period a year before, with 650,523 boxed games sold (GfK data).
GfK April Top 10 (Physical)
|1||New Pokémon Snap (Nintendo)|
|2||FIFA 21 (EA)|
|3||Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)|
|4||Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (Nintendo)|
|5||Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)|
|6||Minecraft: Switch Edition (Microsoft/Nintendo)|
|7||Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)|
|8||Monster Hunter Rise (Nintendo/Capcom)|
|10||Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo)|
In terms of digital, according to data supplier GSD, Grand Theft Auto 5 was the best-selling digital game of the month. And in fact, with Nintendo not sharing digital numbers, GTA 5 was the best-selling combined game of the month with New Pokémon Snap coming in fourth place.
GSD April Top 20 Games (Digital + Physical)
|1||Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)|
|2||FIFA 21 (EA)|
|3||Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)|
|4||New Pokémon Snap (Nintendo)*|
|5||Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (Nintendo)*|
|6||PGA Tour 2K21 (2K Games)|
|7||Mortal Kombat 11 (Warner Bros)|
|9||Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)*|
|10||It Takes Two (EA)|
|11||Total War: Rome Remastered (Sega)|
|12||Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)*|
|13||NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (Square Enix)|
|14||Outriders (Square Enix)|
|15||Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)|
|16||LEGO Harry Potter Collection (Warner Bros)|
|17||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege (Ubisoft)|
|18||Assassin's Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft)|
|19||Minecraft: Switch Edition (Microsoft/Nintendo)*|
According to GSD, 1.27 million games were downloaded in April 2021 (this is based on AAA download sales only, see bottom of the article for the full list of participating publishers). That's a drop of 63% from the same period in 2020.
GSD April Top 10 Games (Digital Only)
|1||Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)|
|2||Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)|
|3||FIFA 21 (EA)|
|4||PGA Tour 2K21 (2K Games)|
|5||Total War Rome: Remastered (Sega)|
|6||It Takes Two (EA)|
|7||Outriders (Square Enix)|
|8||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege (Ubisoft)|
|9||Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)|
|10||WRC 9: FIA World Rally Championship (Nacon)|
Interestingly, the best-selling games of the month aren't reflected in the media charts. According to Press Engine, Outriders, NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 and Returnal received the most press coverage in April (premium games only, not including free-to-play). But in the sales charts, they came in at No.14, No.13 and No.8. Of course, media coverage does tend to skew towards the more hardcore releases.
Elsewhere, 600,000 accessories (GfK Entertainment panel sales) were sold during April, which is a 33.6% drop over last month and a 21.4% drop over the same period last year. The accessories market rises and falls right now depending on the availability of the new consoles. Due to the increased availability of Xbox Series consoles, the Xbox Wireless Controller (Carbon Black) was the best-selling controller, pushing Sony's DualSense pad down to No.2. Strong PS4 sales saw the DualShock 4 controller rise 15 places to No.5.
Again, accessories sales had a boost in April 2020 due to the lockdown (up 48% in units). According to GfK, gaming accessories last year peaked in May 2020 (whereas software and hardware peaked in April). This is because there's typically a lag between people buying a console and then buying add-on controllers, headsets, keyboards and so on. Last year, certain gaming accessories (such a gaming keyboards and chairs) were bought as home office equipment.
GfK also noted that Sony's Pulse 3D Headset is proving to be a popular product. If we assume that most people who own the headset also own a PS5 (the device was built for PS5, but technically works with other hardware), then 20% of PS5 owners in the UK have the Pulse headset. The accessory sold out when it launched last year and didn't come back in stock until January 2021. In the 16 weeks since then, the Pulse 3D headset has been the best-selling device by revenue for 13 of those weeks. It's also been in the Top Five permanently in both units and revenue.