News Article

NPD Q1 Spend Shows 1% Drop Despite Substantial Hardware Boost

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

It's a tough market out there

In recent weeks our coverage of the Japanese chart results has shown a certain pattern — sales are low and showing a lack of momentum. Despite two new home consoles in the past six months and Nintendo beginning to step up its efforts with both Wii U and 3DS, the latest figures for US retail sales are also showing a lack of progress for the games market; NPD has reported that Q1 sales (1st January to 31st March) actually dropped 1% compared to last year.

Sony's PS4 and the Xbox One launched late last year, while some early monthly results for 2014 have shown Wii U sales up in comparison to equivalent 2013 figures. Nevertheless, while total hardware sales in the first three months of the year are 47% higher than last year, physical software sales fell 27% and gaming accessories 11%. On the flipside, download content recorded by NPD showed a 4% growth over last year, the only category aside from hardware to increase.

As figures covering three months, in which a continued burst of momentum was no doubt desired with Sony and Microsoft's new systems on the market, it's certainly disappointing to see a small overall drop over last year's numbers. The struggles of PS4 and and Xbox One titles to make a bigger mark, also affected by a limited release schedule for both, may be an early source of concern. From Nintendo's perspective it reported a degree of success earlier in the year with Bravely Default on 3DS, but Wii U increases sit against a backdrop of poor equivalent figures in 2013 — increased sales are welcome, but there's been little suggestion that the Wii U enjoyed the required performance improvement early in the year, with Nintendo missing its hardware sales targets for the home console and also lowering its 3DS expectations.

In the near future Nintendo will likely put a lot of focus on Mario Kart 8 and Tomodachi Life, while Microsoft has a Kinect-free Xbox One model on the way. E3 will also be vital, as Nintendo and its rivals aim to excite consumers and improve all-round sales — there'll be pressure on the big companies to make this generation of systems exciting to many millions more than those already invested.


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User Comments (68)



LztheQuack said:

So Xbox and PS4 were a bunch of hyped up machines with little substance? Bummer



Ryno said:

I thought the PS4 was going to sell 7 million every 6 months?



Hy8ogen said:

@Unca_Lz Any person who has sense built into them already saw this coming. Good thing for Sony that most people nowadays have more money than sense

@Ryno Sarcasm?



SkywardLink98 said:

@Hy8ogen I thought pretty much no one had money, so I guess people must have very, very, little sense then. Luckily for me, I had enough sense not to buy any next gen console.



Ryno said:

@Hy8ogen: No, not at all.... the Sony fans act like it is the greatest thing ever on this entire planet and I believe em.



Reverandjames said:

@hy8ogen @SkywardLink98 I have money, and sense and I bought a Wii U and PS4, and haven't regretted either purchase for a second. Why? Because I'm a guy who likes spending his money on video games, and likes to have fun with them.



Andremario said:

@ Reverandjames: 1) You probably have a job and 2) You don't live in you guys and gals forgot some of us are in an economic choke me. I wish i could get a wii u but I have no job or money and my father lost his job last december so there's no new games for me. I would love to support nintendo further but it's hard out here son.



River3636 said:

I always end up with all three consoles, but I always buy the Nintendo one first and wait for the others to drop. The fact is they do not have any games that I am interested in and then will not have any games that I'm interested in for a while.



IceClimbers said:

@Swiket I would say the Wii U had some hype at launch, but it died after the holiday season. The only one of the 5 next gen systems that wasn't a hyped-up machine with little substance was the 3DS. It was failing out the gate with no hype and no substance other than a port and two remakes. Obviously, this isn't the case anymore as it recovered extremely well with over 43 million sold worldwide. However, it lost momentum in Q1.



Findonovan95 said:

Well. That's that. I think a lot of people just simply can't afford to buy games. Just what I think though. Doesn't help that it seems like game prices just keep going up, up, up.



Andremario said:

@Findonovan95:that's the point i was trying to make. Games are getting expensive but it's more of a do these customers have the income to support such a hobby in the first place type of thing. This economy sucks and everyone who raises the prices or just overlooks the "budget crowd" with their prices. Sure nintendo products are a better alternative to CoughPS4CoughXbone but what if the customer is like me and is in financial ruin and can't get anymore games with no money job or income to back it?



Smooty said:

Games are priced TOO DARN HIGH, i mean, buying 5 Wii U $60 Games will cost you even more than the console itself, what sense does this make??
I think that if games were priced lower, say, $40 for console games, more people would buy them and that would equal better sales.



sasoriobi said:

lol watch how these wii u fanboys will damage control this. the xbox one is trashing your system everyday.



faint said:

@Andremario they have always been this high. I remember my dad paying over 40 for super castlevania when I was a kid. Now with inflation it's about the same



MadAdam81 said:

PS4 and Xbox One have a lot of critically panned games that are dying a slow horrible death. When there is a better line up of games, I think more will be sold.



Darknyht said:

I remember when I switched back to Nintendo the first time in the Gamecube era, I picked up the console because it was $99.99 and I was immediately able to grab multiple titles from the Player's Choice line at $29.99 or $19.99. That meant that generally once a month I would splurge on a game or I could wait two months and pick up something new.

In the Wii U era, I find myself able to pick up a couple of Virtual Console or eShop games every month or a drastically reduced retail title if I can find one that interests me. The Nintendo stuff is usually out of my price range ($49.99-59.99), and normally instead of waiting I find something else to purchase with the $10 to $20 I can squeeze out in a month from the budget.

I think game companies forgot that part of the reason for success of the previous generation's mega-hits was that it was either a pack-in or a reduced price "Player's Choice" or "Nintendo Selects" title that found a second (and third) sales life in the $19.99 and $29.99 price point.



Andremario said:

@faint:That's true but why does it seem like everything has went up? Games may be priced the same but i feel with the way this economy is they should do more deals. I'm sure the game companies are aware of this"recession"(I call it depression) we are going through why can't they adjust the prices based on economy instead of their suggested retail price? There are people who are missing out or went totally the ios/android/piracy route just to save money. The companies I understand need to make a profit but for some reason i feel they are outta touch or just don't care. It's bad enough you gotta pay more for everything else Groceries,gas etc. but couldn't they adjust the price a little?



joey302 said:

@HaThready The trick Is to lay low until they reach the $20 price point then grab em! Been doing this since the sega genesis days. Very rare I plunk down $60 for a title - very rare!



Smooty said:

@joey302 Yeah but nintendo games take AGES to go down in price!
And i'm very impatient and end up buying games on launch >.< therefore spending all my saved money



ScorpionMG said:

@HaThready Wii u games at full price? never heard of em, most expensive wii u game i got was 3d world for 55, the others range from 15-45 (except for mk8, which i pre ordered for 50)



Smooty said:

@ScorpionMG Well... here in Mexico Nintendo Wii U games like 3d world or NSMBU cost you $1000, wich is like $70 according to my crappy calculations.
Even the Wii Nintendo selects are like $500, about $40



ScorpionMG said:

@HaThready yep, that's the problem when they bring games out of the usa, they get overpriced, that's why i just wait for retailers to lower the price on the games



Peach64 said:

I love how people are trying to make out this means PS4 and Xbone are struggling. Xbone is outselling pretty much every console there has ever been, while PS4 is selling almost twice as much again. Their big March games did over a million each in NPD alone, but that's considered a flop while 200,000 copies of Bravely Default gets highlighted as a success? Sony sold far more PS4 software than their financial estimates, Nintendo sold a lot less on both Wii U and 3DS.

People are putting away those 100 million Wiis, 85 million PS3s and 85 million 360s, it doesn't take a genius to see why sales are down. Not to mention 47 games being released this April compared to 56 last year. You keep believing PS4 and Xbone are struggling though if it makes you feel better. It makes you look really bitter to the outside world though.



Dreamz said:

I agree with @HaThready that games are simply more expensive than they should be. That's for all systems, not just the Wii U. In my mind, $25-$30 is the sweet spot for a Wii U game. The only games that I think can justify the $50 price range are games like epic RPGs or Oblivion/Skyrim that have an obscene amount of game to play.



Uberchu said:

@Unca_Lz False! I have lots of shockingly electric substance!

@Ryno I am selling 7m every 6 months, but most of them are invisible sales from SONY executives...

@ScorpionMG I've always paid full price for my Wii U games in the US, guess I've been getting scammed.



RedYoshi999 said:

Always makes me laugh when Americans complain about prices. Try paying $80 for Wii U games and then you'll see that $60 is a steal.



Andross said:

@Peach64 The PS4 is selling really good, but Xbone are beginning to struggling, in April it did sell worse than 360 ever did in that month, and the console is virtually dead outside the US and UK.



PJR0cks said:

yeah, I got a Wii U when I was visiting my brother (in Canada), the price of the console in middle east where I live is around 550$, and the accessories are the same (around 200% the price), the games are around 50$ - 80$, and the funniest part is here people who make around 1000$ a month are considered very rich, of course the majority of people here buy PS3/360 and just get pirated games, but they pay so easily for hardware and they have such lower expectations.



ScorpionMG said:

@PS4 i didnt say i was from the US but still games over here for wii u usually cost 45-59 i think cod was 65 last time i went to a store
ps4 and xbone games cost 55-69.99 euros over here.... thats 100$ right there, theres a reason why i get my games online for uk, so i wouldnt pay this ridicoulous amount.



faustcoolio said:

What I find hard to understand is "box" games pricing on eshop. Nintendo saves money on packaging, transportation and yet the prices sometimes higher than retales. If MK8 does not sell well high price tag would be at least one of the reasons why.



Dreamz said:

The distribution channels for games and movies are very mature. Transportation, packaging, etc are all a tiny fraction of the overall costs due to the volume moved. I'd be very surprised if totaled more than $1 per unit. Take a look at the massive credit list on any given game - that's where the real cost lies.



electrolite77 said:

@faustcoolio @Dreamz

It's not just distribution. Retailers profits are a significant chunk of any game sales as in a lot of territories are taxes.

That said, I think Nintendo (as well as Sony and MS) are keeping prices high to keep retailers onside by not undercutting them. That and to see how long they can get away with it.



unrandomsam said:

@Dreamz Yeah but the retailers cut is massive. Nintendo should compete (At least whilst they are being treated like they currently are by pretty much everyone other than Amazon).



Darknyht said:

@RedYoshi999 Just because the price of the console is cheaper here doesn't mean that it is necessarily any easier for us to just throw that much cash down. Over the past two decades US wages have basically stagnated, but the cost of living has not. We currently have over half of the working population falling under the poverty line (which is defined as feeding a family of four on $5.52 a day but also doesn't take into account anything else required to live like housing, utilities, transportation). In essence, there is very much a widening class divide in the US and most of us are on the losing end or being pushed there slowly by increased cost of living. The life portrayed in American television shows and movies is a fantasy that most of us never see.

Also while I do feel for people in other countries that have higher priced consoles/games, I also understand that some of that is due to a weaker currency, protectionist government tax policies (tariffs especially), or just the simple logistical cost of getting the product to the location. I do think it is wrong however, that where some of those barriers have been removed (digital copies for example) the price still doesn't reflect it.



Reverandjames said:

@Andremario Yes, I have a job, and yes, the UK is still massively in debt and the cost of living is rising, but I bought them when I had a little bit of spare cash. Doesn't mean I have no sense though, amd I'm not berating anyone who hasn't bought the console yet, I just thought it was worth pointing out that I didn't appriciate being told that I have no sense because I spent my money on what I wanted to. It's hard over here too. But I work hard for my money. 'Son'.



Wolf_Link said:

@HaThready yeah I know. I usually find my games in game planet, or blockbuster, they had a so-so price for pre-owned. any plaza de la tecnología is even better, buy 2 ask for a discount. But, obviously, in this way we aren't helping the industry. If only new games were priced at least 40 dlrs.



Chubblings said:

I don't mean to sound harsh, rude, or inconsiderate, but games can't really be any cheaper. People talk about financial problems, but games are also becoming more and more expensive to develop. Developers can't just make games cheaper, at the end of the day, they need to make money too. Unfortunately, people, gaming is an expensive habit; always has been, always will be.



Dreamz said:

It's a problem that's been creeping up on the industry for awhile now. The crux of the issue is that game development costs are too high. It's probably going to take another industry crash to bring them back down again.

Child of Light is my favorite game for my Wii U so far, and it was $15. If bringing prices down means we shift to smaller scale games like Child of Light (it was significantly shorter than your average RPG), I'm all for it.



dumedum said:

PS4 is a total flop. It's not selling in Japan at all and the west's reaction to it was only due to the early fanboys.



Caryslan said:

@dumedum The PS4 is the best selling next-gen home console right now. its not like the Wii U is setting the charts on fire either in Japan. Home Consoles don't really sell in Japan anymore, so the PS4 doing poorly really means less then you think. Its not like the Wii U is doing any better over there.

Like it or not, the PS4 is the top selling home console of the next gen. That is hardly a flop.



Andremario said:

@ReverandJames:I agree with you.I never thought you had no sense..heck I believe anyone who has the money available to buy whatever game or system they like. I would if i could but i feel you have heard about the uk's economic woes as well. I hope things get better for yall. Don't let the haters make you feel outta place for doing what you love cuz soon as i can get back on my feet you bet your bottom dollar i would buy a wii u and more 3ds games! Happy Gaming!



dumedum said:

@Caryslan sounds like excuses to me lol. You know that in Japan the PS4 is doing worse than Wii U actually (at the respective point of time).

Just because Sony had a lot of fanboys buying it at launch doesn't mean it's not ultimately basically a flop lol.

And even if it ends number one this gen, a better looking turd out of turds is still a turd. If it doesn't reach last gen's numbers then the whole gen is basically a flop and PS4 out of all the flops of the gen, simply came first



JaxonH said:


That's the way it is on all consoles. I go to PSN on my PS4, and Killzone is $60. Infamous is $60. Assassin's Creed is $60. Call of Duty is $60.

That's why I buy physical. Digital games are more expensive, they have zero resale value, you don't own them, and you have to pay for storage. The average Wii U game is around 3-5GB, some larger. So you're probably only going to be able to fit around 7 full games on the hard drive. And PS4 may have 500GB, but games like Killzone have 47GB in installation files. 47 GIGABYTES installed from a PHYSICAL DISC! That's from buying PHYSICAL- digital would be MUCH worse. I'll probably only fit 15 games on my PS4 buying in PHYSICAL form. Digital would probably be 7 just like the Wii U. In both cases, going digital just doesn't make any sense to me.



faustcoolio said:

I read that with purchase of MK8 within first release month you can download one of four games. I guess that would make it 65 / 2 = 32.50 per game. Not too bad.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Games actually have become more expensive. They were $40 two generations ago with the PS2/GC/Xbox, so they actually went up $20. Heck, doesn't anyone remember Wii games were actually $50, rather than $60?

The thing is regardless of development costs games have and always will be a luxury. The publishers can't use that as an excuse forever, eventually something will have to give, either game prices have to adjust to fit the economy or they'll hit a wall when enough people can't afford enough $60 games for the market to remain sustainable.



dumedum said:

@JaxonH My 1 TB harddrive cost practically nothing and can hold dozens of Wii U games. They perform better, less loading times, you get the DDP from Nintendo, you don't have clunky boxes taking your house space, it's overall much better.



SkywardLink98 said:

@Reverandjames The reason I said I have "sense" was because none of the next gen games interest me as of yet, and I'm not a "buy-now play-later" kinda guy. If the games interest you then you then that's great, but they don't interest me and I was sensible enough not to buy a console I'm not going to use.

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