May 2011 Saw The Least Video Games Sold In Five Years…Maybe

By Ishaan . June 13, 2011 . 5:02pm

May 2011 was the lowest month of sales for the games industry since October of 2006, report the NPD Group. Total video game sales declined 13% compared to May 2010. This owes primarily to a light nrelease schedule for the month, with only 42 new SKUs being brought to market, as opposed to 58 in May 2010.


The light release list caused a decline of 19% in the video game software category. Meanwhile, hardware and accessories declined by 5% and 6% respectively. The upside to the recorded decline in sales, however, is that the NPD don’t track digital sales (yet), which means popular digital releases like the recent Call of Duty: Black Ops “Escalation” map pack don’t contribute toward their sales figure.


Digital purchases, they note, are becoming increasingly more common.


The top-selling platform for the month was the Xbox 360. Nintendo 3DS sales were "light," but the NPD note that, beginning with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D’s release on June 19th, the 3DS will start to see a slate of strong content that will boost its sales for the remainder of the year.


The top-10 software sales chart for the month of May in the U.S. is as follows:


Rank Title System Publisher
01. L.A. Noire PS3, 360 Take Two
02. Brink PS3, 360, PC Bethesda Softworks
03. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game PS3, 360, PC, 3DS, Wii, DS, PSP Lucasarts
04. Portal 2 PS3, 360, PC, Electronic Arts
05. Mortal Kombat
PS3, 360 Warner Bros.
06. Call of Duty: Black Ops PS3, 360, PC, Wii, DS Activision
07. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party PS3, 360, Wii Majesco
08. NBA 2K11
PS3, 360, PC, Wii, PSP, PS2 Take Two
09. Just Dance 2 Wii Ubisoft
10. Lego Star Ware III: The Clone Wars
PS3, 360, PC, 3DS, Wii, DS, PSP Lucasarts

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  • Ryos

    If you look at just the numbers I might agree there’s cause for alarm, but then if you look at the top titles and number of titles released in the month, said numbers seem appropriate.  Release more games consumers want and, surprisingly, more sales will be gained.

  • Rarutos

    Well, I guess this is kind of what happens when everyone releases games in the same month in around the same time frame? (Meaning, March. I mean, geez my backlog grew quite a bit within 2 weeks!)

    • OneOkami

      For me, I see it as a improvement on the traditional strategy of trying to push everything out in the fall in time for the annual money-spending extravaganza that is the “holiday season”.  Still, I wish more releases were spread out over the heart of summer, too.  Those usually do come off as dry periods to me.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    A heatless E3 does nothing to spark numbers into the summer and the only thing that will jump start the 3DS is a price drop as it isn’t going to compete well against a same priced next-gen PSP. This holiday season could be telling if the PSN debacle really does change some buying habits for the online-only crowd.

    In short, the Pachter in me still says contraction and actual consolidation remains more than possible………..possibly perhaps.

    • There needes to be compelling software to complement a price drop…whats the pont of buying it if there wont be anything there. I also dont remember for the DS, if more people bought it when Mario Kart came out because of the fact that Mario kart was out, or that it had received a price drop…

      • M’iau M’iaut

        That would be a perfect scenario. Put every dude in the company on Mario Bros. 3DS, get it ready say September/October and ‘relaunch’ the system at $219 or $249 with a special Mario bundle.

    • OneOkami

      If you’re referring to credit card information in mentioning the PSN debacle, I’d hope most, if not everyone who does buy games on PSN is aware that point cards can be purchased from other retailers.  I don’t think you HAVE to store your credit card information with your account.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Yes, but that’s an extra step in the process and personal information compromised is still personal information compromised, regardless what that info is. Prepaid CCs have yet to overcome hurdles such as reload fees or inactivity charges that see money just disappear.

  • LA Noire’s impressive 1mln sales, nice for the genre, though I guess no one expected it to pull RDR numbers. Congrats to those developers for such a good game, though, so many DLC preorder packs…

    • M’iau M’iaut

      I wouldn’t be surprised if all those exclusive crime downloads actually kept a few folks away, peeps knowing full well those scream GOTY collection in 6 months, at  $20 savings to boot.

      • Aoshi00

        But people don’t hold out if they really want to play the games though.. like now you could get the Gears Triple Pack w/ Gears 1&2 and DLCs for $30, instead of paying $60 for each game.. I wouldn’t want to play the game a year or years from now..  even Gears 3 has a $20 credit from Amazon (although the $400 Gears red system looks very sick and tempting *.*), In fact many online and retail stores have some sort of credit even on day 1 for most new games in the last 2 years at least, there’s no reason to go cheap, getting to play a new game for $40 is pretty good.. I got LA Noire for $60 from Kmart w/ $20 credit and a free copy of Mario Slugger (which I sold to a friend for $20 lol), so it’s like the game cost me $24 w/ tax included..  or like Arkham City it’s $56.99 on Amazon w/ $10 credit, I’m definitely playing it on day 1 for $46.99 instead of waiting for the eventual GotY ver..

        I don’t care about missing out on the future DLCs, I might buy them if they’re on sale later..  I’m not too big on sandbox, I’m okay w/ Infamous or Prototype, but I love Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire, just awesome games w/ such excellent stories, made me go back to watch 3:10 to Yuma and LA Confidential :)  Kinda amazing depicting two very different periods in the US history..

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Are we talking Glenn Ford or Gladiator/Batman version of 3:10? As much as I appreciate the sequel, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin do a better job of depicting the two sides of the coin found in every one of us. I’ve long stated my love of LA Confidential but sometimes do wish Dudley had been able to get away as any making of the later book would need a complete redo and we know how badly that turned out with Black Dahlia.

          Noire is definitely on the get list, I’ve just had other expenses and will say the issues with the dialogue activities (which are what sets that game apart from other sandboxes) has troubled me a bit. Certainly got a smile when reading several negative comments regarding the INABILITY to go into full Nico Bellic mode — which was my biggest concern going into the release.

          • Aoshi00

            GTA 4 was nice, but the gameplay was a bit annoying due to lack of checkpoints, once you fail you have to start all over and take on the mission again w/ all the driving..Gay Tony improved on that..  but I like being the good detective in LA Noire more :) Gathering evidence and interrogation felt like Heavy Rain + Phoenix Wright.. RDR’s ending blew my mind I loved it, I didn’t see it coming..  Nah, I was talking about the sequel, I’m a pretty big fan of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale :)  I just watched True Grit too (again the sequel) and it’s quite good.  Kinda in western mode now after RDR lol..

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Loved that update. Hailee beats a too old Kim Darby, Brolin was a better end boss and Damon trumps Glen Campbell. Bridges was more Dude than Duke but still made his own defining mark — only with comparing Duvall with Barry bloody Pepper is there a true nod to the original. I appreciate Bale a great deal but do wish he wouldn’t try to gather a bit of American Psycho for EVERY role……but hey it has worked recently for Jeff!

  • AnimeRemix

    Congrats to LA Noire! Man, I really want that game baldy for my PS3! 

    • I agree. That game is quite hairy.

  • neo_firenze

    IIRC, doesn’t NPD also not count  Do they count any online sales?  As more and more people buy online, along with digitally, NPD becomes less and less relevant.

    Same issue you see in Japan with MediaCreate not counting online sales, which artificially reduces numbers for some genres in particular.  Like Cave’s shooters, which tend to get a higher proportion of sales from online resellers than most mainstream games.  So the chart numbers are much lower than actual sales.

    • NPD has been covering AMZN since 2007. I believed they issues a report in 2007 saying AMZN was added.

      Chart numbers should always be lower unless they are going direct to publisher, since there is no way to ever get 100% covered from a survey of 1000 or so partners, but they should get pretty close.

  • PrinceHeir

    oh well it’ll rise up come this fall :P

  • Crimson_Cloud

    The facial animations of L.A. Noire is outstanding. Just watching them talk is enough ”gameplay” for me. Anyway, this month was pretty weak with the releases so it’s not that surprising.

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