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NPD: 2015 video game sales flat compared to 2014

December saw 1.5 per cent decrease on sales across physical software, hardware, and accessories

The NPD data has arrived for 2015, showing an incremental decrease in physical sales year on year compared to 2014. For December alone there was also a small drop in sales. The biggest game of 2015 was Call Of Duty: Black Ops III.

"2015 video game sales across physical software, hardware, and accessories were flat compared to 2014. Including physical PC games, overall physical sales decreased less than 1 per cent. Accessory spending, which rose by 12 percent from 2014, helped offset single digit declines in hardware and software spending," said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

"For December 2015, there was a 1.5 per cent decrease on sales across physical software, hardware, and accessories as trends mirrored the year with single-digit declines in hardware and software, which were offset by a 10 per cent growth in accessories."

For 2015 as a whole hardware sales decreased 4 per cent, with console and portable sales both decreasing by 4 per cent.

"After 26 months of sales, the combined cumulative sales of Xbox One and PS4 exceeds the 26 month total of the PS3 and Xbox 360 by 47 per cent. The lead from the prior generation has expanded due to the strong PS4 and Xbox One 2015 holiday, going from 38 per cent by the end of October, growing to 47 per cent by the end of November, and maintaining 47 per cent higher sales by the end of December," said Callahan.

December 2015 was the best month ever for Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U total hardware unit sales.

"For December 2015, the 6 per cent decrease in sales versus December 2014 was driven by a 71 per cent drop in seventh generation hardware and the 32 per cent decrease in portable hardware despite the 4 per cent increase in eighth generation spending."

"As an indication of the strength of the new consoles, December 2015 marked the best month to date of PS4 unit sales as well as the Xbox One. With growth over 2014 for both these consoles, 2015 was the best year for PS4 and Xbox One hardware unit sales."

In software the biggest game of 2015 was Call Of Duty: Black Ops III. That was also the biggest selling game for December.

Overall for the year of 2015 new physical software sales dropped by 2 per cent, despite console software sales increasing by 2 per cent.

"Portable software was down 34 per cent, with eighth generation software increasing by 52 per cent; this offset the decrease of seventh generation by 53 per cent, and led to a net increase of $73MM in physical software sales."

In December new physical video game software sales decreased by 3 per cent from last December. NPD pointed to a 40 per cent decrease in portable software sales. Console software sales only decreased by 1 per cent.

"Further, the sales by generation show the health of eighth generation software, which increased by 48 per cent over last December, as seventh generation console software dropped by 54 per cent."

"December 2015 was the best month on record for PS4 and Xbox One, and the second-best for the Wii U in terms of new physical software unit sales. This also meant that it was the best month of total eighth generation new physical software sales. 2015 was also the best year so far for total eighth generation new physical software sales."

Sony Computer Entertainment America offered its comment on the NPD results:

"As we reflect on an amazing year, we want to thank fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top selling console in December and in 2015. PS4 also had the strongest third-party software sales in 2015 in the U.S., according to NPD.

"The momentum and enthusiasm for the platform continued throughout the year, resulting in cumulative sales of more than 35.9 million since the launch of PS4. During the holiday season alone, more than 5.7 million PS4s and 35 million PS4 games were sold through to consumers worldwide. We look forward to another great year and bringing an extensive portfolio of games from our publisher partners and SCE Worldwide Studios to fans in 2016."

Activision's Rob Kostich, senior vice president and general manager, Call of Duty, also responded to the data: “Call of Duty: Black Ops III was the top selling title of 2015 globally by a wide-margin in both units and dollars sold-thru. This also marks the seventh year in a row that Call of Duty has been the #1 selling franchise in North America, according to NPD. In fact, Call of Duty has surpassed 250 million units sold life-to-date worldwide. This achievement is thanks to the amazing experiences created by all of our development teams, and would not be possible without the incredible passion from the Call of Duty community. We congratulate Treyarch on creating an incredibly engaging and an enormously fun game with Black Ops III and look forward to what's to come in 2016."
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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.