April NPD: Not A Good Month

For some reason the NPD Group are no longer publicly reporting PS2 sales. The conspiracy theorists among you may suspect Sony of asking them to stop so that American PS2 sales do not draw unwelcome comparison to those of the PSP.  Or it may simply be that the PS2 is getting increasingly long in the tooth and less relevant to today’s games market even if Sony believe it will continue to make them a profit.

They could have chosen a better month to drop the PS2 from the sales numbers though as the numbers needed all the bolstering they could get with all the consoles recording significant falls in unit sales compared to last month.

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Leading the slide was the Wii which saw a 50% drop.  That was followed by the PSP (-45.37%), 360 (-45.33%) and PS3 (-42%).  The DS family was subject to the smallest fall in sales, which is not much to be proud of, as it only fell by 37%.  Once March’s PS2 numbers are discounted from the total overall hardware unit sales dropped 43%.

Though we do not have the numbers we can perhaps take a guess at PS2 unit sales.  In the notes accompanying the figures NPD analyst Anita Frazier says that “Compared to March ’10 on an average sales per week basis, all platforms declined between 37 percent and 63 percent”.  Now, as far as I understand it (and I admit I could be wrong this late on a Friday) if you compare average sales per week for one month against those of another month, the ratio will be the same as if you compare the monthly totals.

Assuming that is the case, with the Wii recording the largest publicly available drop of 50% what could have dropped by 63% compared to March?  Presumably it must be the PS2.  A 63% drop compared to the 118,300 it sold in March would put its April unit sales at 43,771.  Pure speculation, based on possibly flawed understanding, on my part but not inconceivable.

Sony can take some comfort from the fact that the PS3 trailed the 360 in America by less than 5,000 sales which is the smallest gap this year and that the comparison of this April’s PS3 sales against those of last April shows that the PS3’s sales have increased 42%.  Microsoft can also lay claim to a modest year-on-year increase of almost 6% for the 360.  The other consoles all saw year-on-year decreases with the Wii down 18%, the PSP down 44% and the DS down 58%.

More bad news for the PS2 emerged from the NPD report with estimates showing that it will soon lose its crown of the best selling hardware platform evah.  Its successor will be the DS family which will tear the crown from the PS2’s dying grip in October or November this year.

Hardware Sales Chart

1. DS 440,800
2. Wii 277,200
3. 360 185,000
4. PS3 180,800
5. PSP 65,500

Maybe the lack of sales numbers for the PS2 is just an indication of laziness on the part of NPD as they are no longer providing unit sales figures for software titles outside the top five either.  Fortunately the platform holders have stepped up to fill in some of the blanks for us.

Unlike last month when the PS3 was the software winner with four titles in the top ten and Kratos beating all challenger for the number one spot it is the Wii that takes the platform crown and the 360 that claims number one.  Three of the Wii’s four titles in the top ten are games that just will not stop selling worldwide, let alone in America; New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus.

It is Sam Fisher who has snuck into first place by quite some margin with Splinter Cell: Conviction selling more than twice as many copies as its nearest rival, Pokemon SoulSilver.  The only other new release on the chart is Super Street Fighter IV on the PS3.  Microsoft have noted that the 360 version of that title sold 108,000 units.

There are another couple of relatively big April releases that did not make the top ten, the PS3 release of GTA’s Episodes From Liberty City and 2010 FIFA World Cup.  A ‘soccer’ title not selling too well in the U.S. is fairly easy to believe but what about all those PS3 owning GTA fans?  Did almost all of them jump ship to the 360 so they could play it sooner?

Thanks to TSA’s favourite analyst, Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter, we have an idea of how those two titles performed.  In a note issued as a follow-up to the NPD Group’s data he states that Episodes From Liberty City “sold slightly more than our estimate of 100,000 units (packaged good sales only not including digital downloads)”.  If only we could get hold of those download figures to work out where it really placed.  And it seems that soccer is more popular than Pachter and his pals thought as “2010 FIFA World Cup sold almost double our estimate of 50,000”.

Software Sales Chart

1. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction (360) 486,100
2. Pokemon SoulSilver (DS) 242,900
3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) 200,300
4. Pokemon HeartGold (DS) 192,600
5. God of War III (PS3) 180,300
6. Wii Sports Resort (Wii) *179,000
7. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360) *166,000
8. Wii Fit Plus w/ Balance Board (Wii)
9. Just Dance (Wii) *144,000
10. Super Street Fighter IV (PS3) *143,000

* Figure provided by platform holder.

And here is your customary graph…

Thirtenn Months of NPD - April

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