US Retail Preview for November 2011 - NewsVGChartz Staff , posted on 05 December 2011 / 5,928 Views
NPD data for the four weeks ending November 26, 2011 will arrive this Thursday at 6:30 PM ET. Data on VGChartz is already available for the same period.
November figures for the American video game industry were spectacular for software, but down from last year for hardware. That statement holds for both unit sales and revenue generated in the month. Hardware revenue in fact was down more 15% due to the tremendous discounts for all hardware that existed briefly or throughout the month for each platform (3DS down to $145 at times, Wii down to $100 on Black Friday at Walmart, X360 down to $150 on Black Friday, X360 + Kinect bundles down to $200, PS3 down to $200, PSP & DS were also down to $100).
Hardware unit sales however only dropped about 1% year over year because of the big time discounts, and the existance of seven platforms, rather than six, on retail shelves.
Hardware largely followed the October to November transition from last year, when some platforms more than tripled. Wii, X360 both quadrupled over October, 3DS coming close as well, with PS3 finally tripling from October to November as well. DS and PSP still had pretty substantial leaps from October too, although the lifts were well less than the other platforms. Compared to last year, X360 and PS3 each grew, and with the 3DS seeing its first November the huge decline for DS and more modest declines for other platforms were just about offset. Nintendo and Microsoft previously reported selling 500,000 Wiis, and 800,000 X360s on November 25 / Black Friday, with 960,000 X360s sold during November 20-26, and a VGC estimated 640,000 Wiis sold during the same week.
In the US market, an 'average' non-holiday week is 50,000 units sold per week, with 100,000 representing a strong week. An average November week then is 125,000 units per week, with a strong week at 250,000 per week. Using those criteria, X360, and Wii had very good Novembers, 3DS had a good November, PS3 had a solid but not spectacular month, DS had a November a tick below average, with PSP and PS2 continuing to be nearly irrelevant to the US market.
On the software side of the industry, over two dozen games sold over 200,000 units on a single platform this month, and at least 15 games sold over 350,000 units on multiple platforms.
Last year at least 13 games sold over 300,000 units in the US, so the results aren't that different. One notable trend is that Call of Duty: Black Ops sold about 8.00m units on X360 & PS3 last November, while VGC data has it at 7.84m on those two platforms.
November had a lot of winners for software. EA had the best November I can remember with Battlefield performing quite well in its second month in the US and several of its sports games just missing the 200k+ cut off and the top 15 multiplat list. Ubisoft had a huge month - Assassin's Creed & Just Dance 3 combined for over 2.5m units in November. Older Just Dance and Assassin's Creed games likely picked up as well with hardware sales, so it was a very good month for both brands. Just Dance 2 in fact had only sold 664,000 units last November, and Assassin's Creed was flat (really down slightly) from last November.
Nintendo had its first genuinely huge month for 3DS in the US, which means older software picked up for the platform. Marioland 3D, Skyward Sword, and key software for Wii (and even DS) from 2004-2011 also grew substantially from October (due to bundling) even in the cases where it didn't chart. Microsoft software performed very well for the month too - notably top-line Kinect software, Fable III (due to bundling) and Halo CEA. Skyrim performed very well for Bethesda, and Sony's Uncharted 3 opened well too. A couple more minor publishers had big hits too for the month - THQ had solid performances from Saints Row and WWE 12', while Lego Harry Potter had a very strong opening for WB Interactive given how long the title will sell at a decent clip.
Not all the trends for the month were good. Every major Japanese publisher not named Nintendo / Sony had a pretty lousy month. There were no Japanese third party games to top 200,000 units for the month on a single platform. That is a horrible development given how large the US market is in November and December. Square-Enix, Capcom, Sega, and Konami will survive on Japanese and Europe sales for the month, but none of the Japanese third parties can be pleased with the US market right now.
A final note for the month is the performance of platformers - Sonic Generations, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, and Skylanders, Rayman Origins, and Ratchet & Clank - all fairly strong second tier platformers in terms of brand and quality - will end up selling 200,000 - 1,000,000 units in the US which bodes well for the genre going forward.
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