The lights are on
Once again, the data we have for the past four years from NPD shows contraction in the industry from 2010 through 2013. It's hard to believe that overall retail sales in the United States (the limit of NPD reporting) have shrunk by 53 percent, but with the extended Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 console cycle, the market became more saturated. Thankfully, things are looking up.
As we showed in our updated data for May, the industry saw its first unequivocal upswing in years. There are a number of factors that should carry that through to June, though the summer release slump could drag things back down until fall.
Click to enlarge.
Software and hardware purchases bounced back in May 2014, and with the reduced price of Xbox One following the Kinect unbundling, I suspect we'll see an uptick. I also think that Mario Kart 8, which moved 2 million units in its first month, will help drive hardware numbers up.
In the same token, software should see some spring, Watch Dogs and Mario Kart will keep selling, and I expect we'll see both Tomodachi Life on 3DS and Sniper Elite on new and old consoles perform quite well. Everyone loves that X-ray camera, after all.
One thing we noticed when putting all five years next to one another is that the personality of the month has changed drastically. Five years ago, publishers steered clear of the month almost entirely. Once 2012 rolled around though, things began to shift. Infamous 2, Spec Ops: The Line, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Civilization V: Gods & Kings, Max Payne 3 on PC, and even a couple of crucial titles for Vita hit shelves.
That year was also the beginning of publishers dipping their toes into August (which we'll talk more about in a couple of months). The fall rush started to crack and bleed out a bit, as publishers tried to jockey for better, less crowded placement. It's been interesting to watch the expansion of the release calendar, but it also means that the summer slump has gotten shorter (and your wallet is a bit lighter throughout the year).
Not only have we seen an increase in utilization in June over the past five years, there's been a shift in who is publishing. The month used to primarily be home to smaller publishers, with few AAA releases filling things out.
June 2014 sees the release of 11 self-published titles and fewer from small publishers. Sony has consistently had a single release in the month, Microsoft rarely publishes in June, and Nintendo has at least one, with as many as three (2013). Capcom has also consistently released something in June, though 2014 was surprise DLC for Dead Rising 3.
Activision uses the month for smaller releases like movie-based games, though the original Transformers: War for Cybertron did hit in June. This may suggest that there were lower expectations for it.
Click to enlarge (note that the Xbox One and PS4 lines overlap).
PC releases in June have been ramping up significantly over the past five years, while titles of home consoles have been on a steady decline. The entries are nothing to shrug at either, with Civilization V: Gods & Kings, Company of Heroes 2, Max Payne 3, Quantum Conundrum, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier all coming out in June. It will be interesting to see if this continues given Steam's late June summer sale.
June sees a concentration of releases just before and approximately two weeks after E3. As the event shifts a bit on the calendar each year, the spikes occur at different times. Weeks four and five saw the most releases when aggregated across all five years, with thirty-one and thirty-three respectively. Week one is the lowest with eighteen.
We'll update this data once the June NPD report is released in July.
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