US videogame sales plunge in December depsite hardware gains

Despite record-breaking sales of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in December, US consumers weren't sold on new videogames at retail as software sales dropped 17% to US$1.3 billion, according to the latest NPD data.
January 17, 2014

Despite record-breaking sales of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in December, US consumers weren’t sold on new videogames at retail as software sales dropped 17% to US$1.3 billion, according to the latest NPD data.

In a statement from NPD analyst Liam Callahan, one reason for the decline in software sales is the fact that fewer new games (27% fewer) were released in 2013 versus 2012. November launches in 2013 also fared poorly in December. According to NPD, dollar sales for November 2013 launches in December 2013 fell 27% compared to November 2012 launches in December 2012. Total 2013 software sales dipped 11% from US$7.1 billion to US$6.3 billion.

On the hardware side, strong sales from Xbox One and PS4 drove console hardware sales up 50% versus December 2012. While Xbox One beat its competition in December unit sales (908,000 units sold), Sony’s PS4 took the honor of being the best-selling console for the two-month launch window. And just when things seemed all but lost for Nintendo’s newest console, unit sales of the WiiU in December 2013 were its highest monthly sales yet.

Other positive results for Nintendo came from its continually successful portable 3DS system. It led overall hardware sales for December 2013 and for all of 2013. However, priced at US$499.99, the Xbox One topped yearly hardware sales on a dollar basis, according to NPD.

Overall hardware sales for December 2013 were US$1.4 billion, up from US$1.1 billion in December 2012, representing a 28% rise. For 2013, hardware sales finished at US$4.3 billion compared to US$4 billion for 2012.

When combing sales of video game hardware, software and accessories with rental games and digital sales – including mobile apps, content downloads, micro-transactions, subscriptions and social games – the total consumer spend for December 2013 was nearly US$2.4 billion.

For best-selling kids games, Warner Bros. Interactive’s Lego Marvel Super Heroes and ActivisionBlizzard’s Skylanders SWAP Force took the 8th and 10th spots respectively on the top 10 best-selling games list for December 2013. Interestingly, Minecraft for Xbox 360 outsold Disney Infinity for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, WiiU and 3DS for the year further proving the strength of the open-ended game.

December 2013 also marked the best month ever for Skylanders interactive toy sales in terms of dollars, beating Disney Infinity while sales of interactive gaming toys grew a whopping 70% in 2013 versus 2012.

Looking at accessories, sales rose 4% from US$605 million in December 2012 to US$631 million for December 2013, and consumer demand for digital content helped make December 2013 the best month ever for sales of video game point and subscription cards.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at



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