NPD March 2017 Analysis

From VentureBeat

March results

  • Hardware: $485 million (up 91 percent from $235 million in March 2017)
  • Console software: $612 million (up 5 percent from $585 million)
  • PC software: $29 million (down 25 percent from $39 million)
  • Accessories: $231 million (up 9 percent from $213 million

“Total video game spending, which includes hardware, software and accessories, had a stellar month in spending growth thanks to the release of the Nintendo Switch and new titles including Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Mass Effect: Andromeda,” NPD analyst Sam Naji explained. “Spending grew by 24 percent compared to last year to over $1.3 billion.”

March 2017 should be up given the fact that Nintendo released a new system. New system releases always bring with them (at least in the beginning) market growth. There is a bit of fluff here as the NPD analyst says “WOW, March is so great thanks to Mass Effect and Horizon.” But look at the data above. The biggest growth was in hardware (91 percent). Console software only went up 5 percent, and much of that was likely driven by the Nintendo Switch (as consumers buy multiple games with their shiny new toy).

Software

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  4. Horizon Zero Dawn*
  5. MLB 17: The Show*
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. For Honor
  8. NBA 2K17
  9. Nier: Automata
  10. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  11. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
  12. Battlefield 1
  13. 1-2 Switch*
  14. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  15. Overwatch
  16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  17. Super Bomberman R*
  18. Fifa 17
  19. Lego Worlds
  20. Madden NFL 17

“[Wildlands] had the best launch of any Ghost Recon title,” said Sam Naji. “And, after Tom Clancy’s The Division, it was the second best launch of any Tom Clancy game.”

The best selling game was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. I don’t know much about the game, but the combination of open world game and military shooter (popular in the US) seems like a winning combination. What is interesting is the game didn’t seem to get the same publicity as Horizon and Mass Effect. Also, I suspect this game is the reason for the increase in PC software sales

Not surprisingly, 1-2-Switch didn’t make the top 10. Although Zelda stole the show, 1-2-Switch was supppose to be the system’s Wii Sports game. The data here shows that no one wanted the game. With the Wii, consumers bought the system to get that game. If 1-2-Switch was packaged in with the system, I don’t think consumers would rush to get the system for this game. I think it also speaks to what kind of games consumers want on the Switch. Notice how Just Dance 2017, a series that was a huge hit on the Wii, is nowhere on this list.

“Nintendo continued to break records in physical software as well as hardware,” said Naji. “Switch’s packaged software sold 1.3 million units, a record high for a Nintendo platform launch and the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold over 900,000 packaged units in the launch month. This resulted with an attach rate of 99 percent to the Switch hardware. This is the highest attach rate for any non-bundled title for a new gaming platform since NPD began tracking in 1995.”

This isn’t too surprising. I predicted the game would be a huge hit. In fact, I want to back to something I wrote in the article.

As I close out this article, I want to go back to what I said in the onset. Why do some games sell better and others worse. The reason is the adherence to what makes the series “tick.” The blood and soul of Zelda is a vast, open medieval world with challenging monsters. This was the first game. Zelda has been moving away from that under Anouma, but Breath of the Wild is going back to that formula. It is the return to form is why I think it will be a huge hit for the series.

Zelda fans for a long while have thought the series was fine the way it was. The sales results show that it wasn’t. If Breath of the Wild is a reincarnation of the earlier Zeldas, that means the series has been suppressed since 1998. Zelda is what is selling the Switch. The game has an attach rate of 99 percent. This means everyone’s getting the system for this one game.

“Hardware spending almost doubled compared to a year ago to $485 million,” said Naji. “March 2017 will go down in history books as the month Nintendo broke records. The Nintendo Switch had the biggest hardware launch for a Nintendo platform and the second biggest launch for any video game platform since 1995, the time NPD began tracking this category.”

The results here so that it’s the games that drive hardware sales. The game industry stopped talking about killer apps. Leading up to the Wii era, everyone talked about killer apps. Even Patcher brought up killer apps. Then, no one mentioned them, The Nintendo Switch’s success shows that killer apps always matter, but the game industry pundits forgot about them.

Accessories

“Total spend on accessories and game currency cards grew 9 percent compared to last year to $231 million,” said Naji. “Accessories associated with the Nintendo Switch accounted for one quarter of total console accessory spending for the month.”

Again, accessory spending increased because of Nintendo Switch.

“Although interactive gaming toy sales were down 38 percent for the month compared to this time last year the popularity of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Amiibo 1 Character Pack accounted for 43 percent of total Interactive Gaming Toy spending,” said Naji. “This was enough to increase sales in Amiibos by 56 percent year-on-year.”

Breath of the Wild is even making the amiibo sell.

If there is any lesson from March, it that games drive the industry. Would March have been a good year without Zelda? Think about it. The Nintendo Switch sold solely because of Zelda. This increased hardware sales and even increased accessory sales. Although the NPD analyst game a lot of lip service to Horizon (it’s Guerrilla Game’s best selling title!!) and Mass Effect, the data shows March would have been DOWN year-over-year had Zelda not come out.

It just goes to show you that one big game can change everything.

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