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NPD: US game sales drop 18% in August

Industry posts weakest August software sales in more than 20 years as hardware continues 2019's unbroken string of double-digit declines

Gaming's difficult 2019 drags on. The NPD Group has released its monthly US sales report for August, showing that US hardware, software, and accessory sales were down 18% year-over-year to $666 million. (The NPD Group figures include new US physical sales as well as digital sales from a subset of publishers.)

Year-to-date, the NPD figures put US spending on games down 6% from last year to $7 billion as of the end of August. Software sales have been slightly up over that stretch, but not enough to offset significant declines in hardware sales.

August spending on game hardware dropped 22% year-over-year to $167 million. Every month this year has seen double-digit year-over-year declines on hardware, with February's 12% drop being the best performance so far. Year-to-date, hardware spending is down 21% to $1.6 billion. While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are playing out the clock until next-generation successors arrive next year, Nintendo's Switch has been the outlier, posting hardware sales gains both in August and year-to-date. It was also the best-selling hardware platform in August and year-to-date.

Software sales have been less consistently depressed this year, but August was a down month. The NPD reported August dollar sales of tracked games fell 22% to $257 million. It was the lowest total for August software sales since 1998, when the month's US game sales tallied $234 million. Year-to-date, US software sales are up 1% to $3.1 billion, with NPD analyst Mat Piscatella crediting Switch games for the growth.

Madden NFL 20 topped the sales charts for the second month, maintaining momentum from its earlier than usual July kickoff. Minecraft came in second, which is (perhaps surprisingly) the game's highest placement ever on the NPD charts. Astral Chain was the best performing new release, just cracking the top 10 list.

Below is NPD's top 20 best-selling games chart for August 2019:

  • 1. Madden NFL 20^
  • 2. Minecraft#
  • 3. Grand Theft Auto V
  • 4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses*
  • 5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  • 6. Super Mario Maker 2*
  • 7. Mario Kart 8*
  • 8. Mortal Kombat 11
  • 9. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege
  • 10. Astral Chain*
  • 11. Marvel's Spider-Man
  • 12. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  • 13. Red Dead Redemption II
  • 14. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII^
  • 15. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • 16. Super Mario Party*
  • 17. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order*
  • 18. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  • 19. The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
  • 20. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

* Digital sales not included
^ PC digital sales not included
# Minecraft digital sales on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One included