December 2016 NPD Sales

Originally published on Trevor Trove on January 23, 2017

I touched on the overall 2016 NPD sales charts when they released last week. Let’s look, today, at the numbers that were released for the month of December. In a new shift, the NPD group included the breakdown by system of December sales, in addition to the full chart. As a reminder, the NPD figures now reflect partial digital sales, but not all publishers take part.

December 2016 Top 10 Games

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Final Fantasy XV
  3. Battlefield 1
  4. Madden NFL 17
  5. NBA 2K17
  6. Watch Dogs 2
  7. Grand Theft Auto V
  8. Pokemon Sun*
  9. FIFA 17
  10. Pokemon Moon*

* – Does not include digital sales.

  • No surprise on Call of Duty taking the top spot as it has been the dominant December title for nearly a decade.
  • As mentioned in the Year-End rundown, Final Fantasy XV’s long-awaited release launched incredible strong as it was even able to break into the year’s top ten with only one month on the market.
  • Notable though, that Call of Duty outselling it means that even the second month of Call of Duty sales alone outweigh total sales for the year on nearly every other game, since those numbers would have put the latest Call of Duty at at least number nine on the year-end list.
  • Battlefield 1, the sports trio, and Grand Theft Auto V are all pretty much to be expected. Minecraft doesn’t make an appearance but it and GTA V occasionally drop off the monthly charts when there are enough other notable launches.
  • Watch Dogs 2 moves up ahead of the Pokemon games from its November position at number 8 (Sun and Moon were previously 3 and 4 respectively).
  • And once again, Pokemon Sun and Moon would easily chart higher if combined.

December 2016 Top 10 PS4 Games

  1. Final Fantasy XV
  2. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  3. Battlefield 1
  4. Watch Dogs 2
  5. NBA 2K17
  6. Madden NFL 17
  7. Grand Theft Auto V
  8. FIFA 17
  9. The Last Guardian*
  10. Titanfall 2

* – Does not include digital sales.

  • PlayStation 4 stayed atop the hardware sales in December, as it had in November. After slipping to Xbox for a couple months, PlayStation 4 managed to outsell Xbox for the majority of the year.
  • Final Fantasy XV managed to outsell Call of Duty and Battlefield 1 on PlayStation 4 in December. This tracks with the digital ranking as released by the PlayStation Blog as well, where on ARK: Survivor’s Pack managed to outsell the latest Square Enix offering. As we’ll see in the Xbox chart though, it would seem a deficit of FFXV Xbox sales kept it from overpowering Call of Duty altogether.
  • Most everything else lines up appropriately with the digital rankings. Though it is notable that The Last Guardian appears at number 9 here but didn’t even crack the top 20 in digital releases.

December 2016 Top 10 Xbox Games

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Battlefield 1
  3. Final Fantasy XV
  4. Madden NFL 17
  5. NBA 2K17
  6. Watch Dogs 2
  7. Titanfall 2
  8. Grand Theft Auto V
  9. Forza Horizon 3
  10. FIFA 17
  • As highlighted above, the Call of Duty/Battlefield combo managed to outsell Final Fantasy XV on Xbox, enough to give Call of Duty the overall win for the month. That Final Fantasy (a franchise mostly absent from the Xbox library) manages to come in at number three is still an impressive feat.
  • Forza Horizon 3 replaces The Last Guardian as the console exclusive cracking the chart.
  • Everything else matches the PlayStation 4 list, with only some additional shifts in the rankings.

December 2016 Top 10 Wii U Games

  1. Paper Mario: Color Splash*
  2. Pokken Tournament*
  3. Minecraft*
  4. Just Dance 2017
  5. Skylanders Imaginators
  6. Super Smash Bros.*
  7. Super Mario Maker*
  8. LEGO Dimensions
  9. Splatoon*
  10. New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U*

* – Does not include digital sales.

  • Interesting and eclectic mix of what is selling on the Wii U at this point.
  • Somewhat understandable that Paper Mario and Pokken top the chart as a couple of the only 2016 releases for the system.
  • The inclusion of the toys-to-life Skylanders and LEGO Dimensions series cements the family audience narrative for the system.
  • Of the rest of the chart, I think New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U* surprises me the most as I would expect Mario Kart or even a Zelda to be outselling that title. But I would also venture a guess that the NES Classic managed to outsell all of these titles.

December 2016 Top 10 Portable Games

  1. Pokemon Sun*
  2. Pokemon Moon*
  3. Super Mario Maker*
  4. Pokemon Sun & Moon dual pack*
  5. Mario Party Star Rush*
  6. Super Smash Bros.*
  7. Mario Kart 7*
  8. Kirby: Planet Robobot*
  9. Pokemon Omega Ruby*
  10. Pokemon X*

* – Does not include digital sales.

  • Unsurprising that the “Portable” list is exclusively 3DS as there difference between 3DS and Vita hardware is significant.
  • It will be interesting to see if Switch sales ends up lumped in with Wii U, Portable, or its own category starting in March.
  • And suddenly, it makes sense why Pokemon might want to be counted separately. Sure, combining them would give it a higher single ranking on the charts. But here it would prevent the series from taking up a full half of the list.
  • That nine out of the ten titles feature Pokemon or Mario is a pretty significant indicator to the successful Nintendo franchises.

I’ll be interested to see if the NPD group continues this system-level breakdown or if it was a one-time thing for December.

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