The business of making, distributing and marketing games is vast. We all know this. It seems though that, at least in the US, this May has seen a  greater level of spending on games than last year. During May the US market spent $586 million on physical hardware and software, a figure 52% higher than the $387 spent during the same period last year.

What powered these high figures? Well the releases of Wii U exclusive Mario Kart 8 and Ubisoft’s multi-platform hackathon Watch Dogs certainly did their part, as evidenced by the chart below which shows the top ten selling titles through May.

1. Watch Dogs (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
2. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
3. MLB 14: The Show (PS4, PS3, Vita)
4. Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
5. Minecraft (360, PS3)
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, Wii U)
7. NBA 2K14 (360, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, PC)
8. Titanfall (360, Xbox One, PC)
9. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)
10. Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, PC, Wii U)

It should be noted again that these are only the physical units sold in the US and doesn’t include European or Australasian sales figures, nor does it include any digital sales information.

According to the NPD figures, physical software sales alone were $274 million, a figure 20% greater than sales in April and an impressive 57% higher than the $175 million spent during May 2014. These figures aren’t exactly surprising in themselves. After all, Watchdogs sold 4 million copies in its first week (simultaneously becoming Ubisoft’s fasting selling franchise over its first 24 hours) and Mario Kart 8 sold 1.2 million units in just three days. What is surprising about this however is just how quickly these two titles flew off the shelves. For Mario Kart 8 to hit second in the chart after only three days is nothing short of incredible. There have been slower sales of bread and milk during disaster scares.

That roof is probably full of dancing Nintendo executives after Mario Kart 8 sold 1.2 million in three days.

The other two new titles in the top 4 are hardly surprising as each is a new release; one based upon a much-loved American sport and the other a follow up to everyone’s favourite Nazi-slaughter simulator. Round out the top 5 is  Minecraft which refuses to go away shows, showing just  how strong Mojang’s sandbox creation game is even after all this time. Online multiplayer still waves its banner in both Titanfall and Call of Duty: Ghosts while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rides upon the publicity surrounding the movie’s release. Kirby: Triple Deluxe’s success in these NPD figures cannot be sniffed at either what with it only being available on a handheld although that could be in part due to its release at the very start of May and it being the only notable 3DS release during the month. Both Kirby and Mario Kart 8 show the strength of Nintendo’s franchises as well as the devout fanaticism of their fanbase.

NPD analyst Liam Callahan states that “Collectively, May 2014 launches sold 800 percent more in dollar sales than May 2013 launches did in their respective launch month.” He continues on to mention that “new launches represented 50 percent of dollar sales this month, which compared to only 9 percent for new launches in May 2013.” No matter how you look at it, this shows the power of a new release to get people out spending their dollars.

This is especially true of PS4 owners who drove sales of Call of Duty: Ghosts, NBA 2K14, Amazing Spiderman 2, Wolfenstein and Watch Dogs to a figure above those purchased by Xbox One owners. Whether this is a showing of the gulf between hardware sales figures of each or the average disposable income (the amount an individual has to spend and save after taxation has been taken into account) of PS4 owners in relation to Xbox One owners would warrant further investigation. 

Suffice to say on the software front, May 2014 was a good year.

When it comes to hardware sales the NPD don’t put out a great deal of information, a point evidenced by last month’s reveals by Sony and Microsoft that they had sold 7 million units as opposed to shipped 5 million respectively. Callahan did point out this month though that “May 2014 marked the fifth consecutive month that Sony’s PlayStation 4 led hardware sales.” This is the last month that Sony will have a price advantage over the Xbox One as the Kinect is being removed so whether this continued success on Sony’s part is due to prospective buyers of the Xbox One waiting for the price drop after the manufacturer decided to offer a Kinect-less SKU remains to be seen. Finishing off the Big 3, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to hear soon that Nintendo have seen a spike in WiiU sales with the release of Mario Kart 8. 

Stay tuned to n3rdabl3 for next month’s NPD news from June sometime in July.

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