May 2016 NPD Sales

Originally published on Trevor Trove on June 18, 2016

Just like the PSN sales from May, my NPD sales analysis from May wound up getting bumped with all of the excitement around E3. Sony continued its monthly lead in the console sales according to NPD. And with E3 now behind us, I’m acutely aware that the launch of the Xbox One S in August is probably going to end up screwing over my prediction that Sony would win every month through October.


Oh well, let’s look at my predictions from last month.

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will easily chart. I don’t think it’ll take the top spot over some of the other multi-platform new releases though.
  • The Doom reboot also seems a safe bet to debut on the charts this month.
  • We’ll finally see how the battle between Gearbox’s Battleborn and Blizzard’s Overwatch plays out. Gearbox announced that Battleborn sales are on par with the original Borderlands launch, which debuted at #3 way back on the October 2009 NPD charts with over 400,000 units sold. Meanwhile, Overwatch just reported 9.7 million people played the open beta last weekend. My money is on Overwatch winning this fight and taking the top spot for the month overall. It’s really tough to bet against Blizzard and their incredible pedigree. I think Battleborn will indeed chart though, maybe somewhere around number 5.
  • The only other real newcomer of note this month is Homefront: The Revolution, which I know pretty much nothing about. But it hits early enough (May 17) that I think it’ll manage to make the cut.
  • So that’s five new titles: what will fall away in order to make room for them? Star Fox Zero andQuantum Break definitely aren’t sticking around. As well as Ratchet & Clank did this month, it’s another console exclusive so it probably doesn’t have the legs for a second month. I can see any combination of Call of DutyNBA 2K16, GTA V, and Minecraft falling off. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say GTA V and Minecraft will go back into hibernation for a bit to make way for the new titles. At this point in their life cycle, they perform best on the chart on months light on new titles so I think with the Spring releases going into full swing, we’ll stop seeing these two mainstays. Historically, as I mentioned, NBA 2K stays strong a bit longer and so does Call of Duty.

And how did May 2016 actually shape up?

  1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) – released May 10
  2. Doom (PS4, XBO, PC) – released May 13
  3. Overwatch (PS4, XBO, PC) – released May 24
  4. Battleborn (PS4, XBO, PC) – released May 3 
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC) – was #6 in Dec, #2 in Jan, #3 in Feb, #4 in Mar, #5 in Apr
  6. Minecraft (XBO, 360, PS4, PS3) – was #8 in Dec, #6 in Jan, #8 in Feb, # 10 in Mar, #6 in Apr
  7. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3) – was #1 in Sept, #2 in Oct, #5 in Nov, #7 in Dec, #3 in Jan, #5 in Feb, #8 in Mar, #9 in Apr
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC) – was #1 in Nov, #1 in Dec, #1 in Jan, #2 in Feb, #9 in Mar, #8 in Apr
  9. MLB: The Show 16 (PS4, PS3) – was #6 in Mar, #3 in Apr
  10. Dark Souls III (PS4, XBO) – was #1 in Apr

So how did I do?

  • Uncharted 4 managed to defy my expectations and take the top spot, over the multi-platform games. (0 out of 1)
  • Doom still managed to land at #2, which is pretty much where I expected it. (1 out of 2)
  • Overwatch only made it to #3. It had an admittedly late start in the month but I still imagined it would outsell the other two. The report said something to the effect of “day for day,” Overwatch was outselling Doom two-to-one. Of course, I also forgot to take into account how many people are buying it digitally (especially PC). So it would not at all surprise me if Overwatch actually did sell more copies in May, just not the ones tracked by NPD, which really needs to start tracking digital sales in order to remain relevant. (1 out of 3)
  • Battleborn beat most people’s expectations coming it at #4. Though, in the inverse of the above probably only charted as high as it did because it benefitted from having the entire month to sell. So between it losing to Overwatch and coming in “maybe somewhere around number 5” at #4, I’m giving myself the point. (2 our of 4).
  • Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft continue to showcase their incredible staying power at #5 and #6, respectively. So the complete opposite of my prediction that they would return to hibernation. (2 out of 5/6)
  • NBA 2K16 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III did stick around, as predicted, at #7 and #8, respectively. (3/4 out of 7/8).
  • MLB: The Show 16 hangs on at #9. Didn’t really comment on it either way so no point change, I guess.
  • And Dark Souls III hangs on to round out the top ten. Once again, no prediction either way on Dark Souls. But this kind of makes it abundantly clear that unless you are a sports game, Call of Duty, or have the magical mystery power of GTA or Minecraft, don’t expect to stay on the charts long. Dark Souls III went from #1 to #10.
  • Homefront: The Revolution is nowhere to be found. No surprise now given how poorly it reviewed. (4 out of 9)
  • So Ratchet & ClankThe DivisionQuantum Break, and Star Fox Zero fell off the chart. The only one of those I didn’t guess was The Division (which I just didn’t address at all). (5 out of 10)

Not bad overall. So what to predict for the June NPD numbers…hmmm…I’m going to think about it some more and update this later.

UPDATE 6/29/16 (almost forgot to come back to this):

  • OverwatchGrand Theft Auto VMinecraft, and Call of Duty will all hang on.
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens will chart on the top ten, despite launching at the end of the month.
  • With so few other new releases in the month, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will manage to chart.
  • But Mighty No. 9 will not.
  • NBA 2K16 was given away freely as a PlayStaion Plus title in June so it will finally fall off the chart (also because the season is over).
  • Doom will barely hang on.
  • MLB: The Show 16 will move up a bit from the number 9 spot.
  • Uncharted 4, despite performing admirably in May, will fall off the chart in June.

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