The NPD Group has released its report for February 2014, with indications that the NPD has grown 9 percent over February 2013. During the month, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were neck-and-neck, with Sony’s new console edging out Microsoft’s.

Xbox One sold 258,000 units in the United States in February, putting the PlayStation 4 at no more than 287,000 units. Total hardware sales were up 42 percent over last year, driven largely by a 60 percent jump year-over-year in home console sales.

Nintendo shared that Wii U sales are up 25 percent year over year, partially on the back of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which sold 130,000 copies since its February 21 launch.

Software sales, while down on drops in Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii skus, are also notable. The NPD report showcases an 80 percent jump over the first four months of combined sales for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Wii U software sales are up 180 percent over the same month last year, with 3DS sales also climbing 25 percent.

Bravely Default sold over 200,000 copies in its first three weeks, beating last year’s stellar performance of Fire Emblem: Awakening by 10 percent. Pokémon X and Y continue to put up big numbers with 130,000 copies sold in February, bringing life to date sales to 3.4 million in the United States alone. In January, Nintendo reported that the duo had passed 11 million sales worldwide.

Microsoft shares that it sold 772,000 Xbox One games in February, with a 2.75 attach rate for the console. Inclusive of Xbox 360 sales, Microsoft owns 48 percent of total software market share.

The month’s top ten list features a lot of returning faces, but also some of February’s notables.

  1. Call Of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS3, XBO, PS4, NWU, PC)
  2. The LEGO Movie Videogame (360, PS3, 3DS, NWU, XBO, PS4, PSV)
  3. NBA 2K14 (360, PS4, PS3, XBO, PC)
  4. Thief (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3) 
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)
  6. Battlefield 4 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  7. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (360, PS4, PS3, XBO, NWU, PC)
  8. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)
  9. Minecraft (360)
  10. Bravely Default (3DS)

Of note is that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was the fourth highest selling sku. Because it appears on only one platform, it was unable to crack the top ten, which is figured at the title level (with aggregated skus).


Our Take
Things are starting to turn around, but with the frequency of layoff news, it’s clear that the industry is becoming more cyclical and more hit-driven. The middle has almost completely eroded at the publisher level, with indies (not included in the NPD because of their digital-only nature) filling the vacuum. 

Both Sony and Microsoft need more system-sellers to keep momentum going. March should be a strong month, but the middle of the year is still largely empty on new-gen systems.