For those of you living in primitive, over-seas, possibly Australian lands, you might not be familiar with the sudden onslaught of consumerism that overtakes America in November. Immediately after Thanksgiving, people across the land venture out of their dwellings for days and weeks on end, purchasing everything they see, all in a futile attempt to celebrate the birth of their Pagan lord, Jesus. It's horrific.
Consequently, November, and it's sequel, December, are some of the biggest months of the year for the retail industry. Video game retail sales are no different, and unsurprisingly, tend to spike abruptly in these two months. Below we present the video game sales data for November, courtesy of the NPD group. As always, if used properly, this data will back up any argument you want it too.*
*up to, and including "Don't shoot, here are five excellent reasons why I'm in bed with your wife"
Hardware Sales (lifetime in brackets)
Nintendo DS 1.53 million (15 million)
Wii 981K (6 million)
Xbox 360 770K (7.9 million)
PSP 567K (9.5 million)
PlayStation 2 496K (40 million)
PlayStation 3 466K (2.5 million)
360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 1.57 million
Wii Super Mario Galaxy 1.12 million
360 Assassin's Creed 980K
PS2 Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock 967K
Wii Wii Play (w. Remote) 564K
360 Mass Effect 473K
PS3 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 444K
Wii Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock 426K
360 Halo 3 387K
PS3 Assassin's Creed 377K
Percentage gain over October sales:
Xbox 360: 110%
As expected, all of the major consoles and handhelds saw major jumps over their October sales – most notably the Nintendo DS. If you're reading this and didn't buy a Nintendo DS last month, then you probably bought two. The PS3 remains a distant third in total sales, but also got a very large boost in November – probably due to its price cut. Wii sales got the smallest boost of all the systems, unsurprising given its supply problems. For those of you that missed it, in a blog post last week, I fairly conclusively proved that the Wii supply problems are due to a conspiracy orchestrated by the lizard people. Due to the explosive revelations contained within said post, I now live in fear for my safety, and am writing this post from a hidden location within my house.
Over the last year many have commented that software sales for the Wii have lagged well behind those for the Xbox 360. These points were always muted somewhat because the 360 had a much larger installed user base than the Wii throughout much of the year. There was also the minor point that most of the Wii games available in 2007 sucked large veiny donkey balls. But given that the Wii is now within spitting distance of the 360's North American user base, and is finally starting to get some decent games released for it, we can analyze this argument in slightly better light.
And it appears to be completely true. Super Mario Galaxy, generally regarded as being the biggest, most mustachioed weapon in Nintendo's arsenal, managed to sell 1.1 million copies this month. That doesn't seem bad until you consider Call of Duty 4 sold 1.6 million copies for the 360 in the same month, and Halo managed 3.3 million sales during its first month. Even brand new IP's like Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect sold extremely well for the 360 this month. By any measure we look at it, the 360 is thrashing the Wii in software sales. I'm not sure how these software attach rates compare to historical ones, i.e. whether the 360 is an anomaly on the high side or the Wii is one on the low side. Whatever the case, third party developers must be sporting massive, unconcealed erections for the spend-happy 360 user base right about now.
The numbers for Guitar Hero III were also interesting this month. Sales of the 360 and PS3 versions dropped off the top 10, while the PS2 and Wii versions actually rose somewhat. This isn't that surprising to me – it's widely known that casual gamers don't feel compelled to buy games the first day or week they come out. It also suggests that games for the PS2 and Wii may have longer "legs" than 360 or PS3 games, i.e. that they'll sell copies longer into their lifespan. Speaking for myself, I have a Wii, and still haven't played Mario Galaxy yet. Does this make me a typical Wii owner, or does it speak to some sort of defect in my character? I certainly don't have a lack of those - though they're often masked by my other attributes.
The PS3 versions of COD4 and Assassin's Creed performed quite well this month. Curiously missing from the sales list: Ratchet and Clank and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Still, after almost a year of naught but bread, water and Lair, it's nice to see long-suffering PS3 owners finally get something to sink their teeth into.
Also missing from the software top ten: Rock Band. Given its cost and multiplayer-only nature, this shouldn't be too surprising, even considering all the digital ink that's been spilled on the game. Here's what I think has happened: because game reviewers have review copies of games provided for them, they can potentially become enamored with expensive and elaborate games that they wouldn't necessarily spend their own money on. Rock Band is a really appealing game to play, provided someone else owns it. When push comes to shove, not many people want the hassle of having two guitars and a drum set in their living room. Also when push comes to shove, people really like having $170 in their pocket.