March 2022 NPD: Elusive new-gen hardware drags down sales

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Gaming fans in the United States spent less on video game products in March, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Those declines are due to multiple factors, but an ongoing hardware drought is one of the primary downward-driving forces. That likely had a strong knock-on effect that contributed to a decline across all categories. Here are the full results:

March 2022 Dollar Sales, Millions Mar 2021 Mar 2022 change
Total Video Game Sales $5,688 $4,853 -15%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $4,712 $4,112 -13%
Video Game Hardware $680 $515 -24%
Video Game Accessories $296 $227 -23%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“March 2022 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories declined 15% when compared to a year ago, to $4.9 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Declines were seen across all major categories of spend.”

Of course, it’s also clear that the industry is now giving back some of the gains it made during the pandemic. Games grew quickly when consumers had few other choices when it came to spending their entertainment budget. That momentum has slowed through the first quarter of 2022.

“First quarter 2022 spending fell 8% when compared to the same period a year ago, to $13.9 billion,” said Piscatella.

Year-to-Date 2022 Dollar Sales, Millions YTD 2021 YTD 2022 change
Total Video Game Sales $15,158 $13,921 -8%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $13,046 $12,128 -7%
Video Game Hardware $1,405 $1,200 -15%
Video Game Accessories $708 $592 -16%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

But the hardware shortage is likely still the biggest culprit. People tend to spend a lot of money on new games and accessories when they buy new systems. With those devices so rare in March, new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S adopters were not making those extra purchases.

Let’s get to the software.

March 2022 NPD: Top 20 best-selling games of the month in the United States

NPD tracks physical sales at retailers, but it also gets digital data directly from publishers. Not every company participates. For example, Nintendo doesn’t share its first-party sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales.

These charts are sorted by dollar sales — not number of units sold. And this is for full-game sales and does not include in-game spending.

Rank Last Month Rank March 2022 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked ten dollar sales Publisher
one one Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
2nd NEW Gran Turismo 7 Sony (Corp)
3 NEW Kirby and the Forgotten Land* Nintendo
4 NEW MLB: The Show 22# Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
5 2nd Horizon II: Forbidden West Sony (Corp)
6 3 Pokemon Legends: Arceus* Nintendo
7 NEW WWE 2K22* Take Two Interactive
8 8 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
9 6 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
10 NEW Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Square Enix Inc (Corp)
11th NEW Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands* Take Two Interactive
12 NEW Ghostwire: Tokyo Microsoft (Corp)
13 9 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
14 10 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
15 7 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
16 NEW Triangle Strategy* Nintendo
17 12 Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
18 14 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
19 13 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
20 21 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
* Digital sales not included
# Includes only the MVP Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition

March was another busy month in a busy season of game releases. And as you can see in the chart above, those games spread out across the entire top 20 for the month. While Sony and Nintendo did well with Gran Turismo 7, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and MLB: The Show 22 all in the top 5, other new games didn’t fare as well.

As always, I like to use Mario Kart 8 as the “success line” with NPD’s data. Mario Kart is a perennial top seller. And Nintendo doesn’t even provide its digital sales. But if a new game can perform better than Mario Kart 8, then it probably had a successful debut.

Unfortunately for a number of publishers, quite a few new games came in below that threshold. That includes Nintendo Switch’s other big March release, Triangle Strategy — although NPD does not have digital sales for that game as well. Publisher Square Enix has also already confirmed that game sold 800,000 copies in two weeks.

But other games below the Mario Kart 8 line include new releases like Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Ghostwire: Tokyo. And of those, only Tiny Tina doesn’t have digital-sales data. But in all three of those cases, their publishers were likely expecting them to sell better than an eight-year-old card racer that first debuted on Wii U.

Elden Ring continues to dominate

While new releases made up half of the top 16 games, it was February’s top game that once again reigned supreme. Its March was actually more successful than its debut month.

“Elden Ring repeated as the best-selling game of the month, as dollar sales for the title experienced double-digit percentage dollar sales growth compared to its February 2022 launch,” said Piscatella. “Elden Ring ranked first in dollar sales among tracked titles across PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.”

At this rate, Elden Ring is bound to finish the year as one of the best-selling games.

“Elden Ring remains the best-selling game of 2022 year to date, and now ranks second over the 12 month period ending March 2022 with dollar sales trailing only those of Call of Duty: Vanguard.”

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo 7 is another huge debut for PlayStation Studios. Despite launching only on PlayStation systems, it outpaced everything except for Elden Ring.

“Gran Turismo 7 debuted as the No. 2 best-selling game of March 2022, while also ranking 2nd on PlayStation platforms,” said Piscatella. “Gran Turismo set a new all-time launch-month dollar-sales record for a Gran Turismo franchise launch. Gran Turismo 7 was the fourth best-selling game of the first quarter.”

For the first quarter, Gran Turismo 7 was behind only Elden ring, they physical-only sales of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and Horizon: Forbidden West.

March 2022 NPD: 20 best-selling games of 2022 so far

Rank Last Month Rank YTD 2022 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked ten dollar sales Publisher
one one Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
2nd 2nd Pokemon Legends: Arceus* Nintendo
3 3 Horizon II: Forbidden West Sony (Corp)
4 NEW Gran Turismo 7 Sony (Corp)
5 4 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
6 5 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
7 NEW Kirby and the Forgotten Land* Nintendo
8 11th Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
9 6 Dying Light 2: Stay Human* Square Enix Inc (Corp)
10 12 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
11th NEW MLB: The Show 22# Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
12 7 Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
13 10 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
14 13 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
15 14 Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
16 9 God of War (2018) Sony (Corp)
17 8 Total War: Warhammer III sega
18 15 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
19 NEW WWE 2K22* Take Two Interactive
20 19 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included
# Includes only the MVP Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition

March 2022 NPD: Top 10 best-selling games of the 12 months

Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending March 2022 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
one one Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2nd 5 Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
3 2nd Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
4 4 Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl* Nintendo
5 6 Battlefield 2042 Electronic Arts
6 7 Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
7 3 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 10 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
9 9 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
10 12 MLB: The Show 21^ Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
* Digital sales not included
^ Digital sales on Xbox platforms not included

March 2022 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo-platform games in the US

Nintendo Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank March 2022 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
one NEW Kirby and the Forgotten Land* Nintendo
2nd one Pokemon Legends: Arceus* Nintendo
3 2nd Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
4 NEW Triangle Strategy* Nintendo
5 3 Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
6 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
7 4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
8 8 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
9 NEW Rune Factory 5* Marvelous Entertainment
10 10 New Super Mario Bros.* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

March 2022 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation-platform games in the US

Rank Last Month Rank March 2022 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
one 2nd Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
2nd NEW Gran Turismo 7 Sony (Corp)
3 NEW MLB: The Show 22# Sony (Corp)
4 one Horizon II: Forbidden West Sony (Corp)
5 NEW WWE 2K22* Take Two Interactive
6 NEW Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Square Enix Inc (Corp)
7 4 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 NEW Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands* Take Two Interactive
9 6 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
10 NEW Ghostwire: Tokyo Microsoft (Corp)
* Digital sales not included
# Includes only the MVP Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition

March 2022 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox-platform games in the US

Rank Last Month Rank March 2022 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
one one Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
2nd 2nd Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 NEW WWE 2K22* Take Two Interactive
4 NEW Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands* Take Two Interactive
5 9 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
6 5 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 11th Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 6 Forza Horizon 5 Microsoft (Corp)
9 4 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
10 8 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

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