The lights are on
The full March 2013 NPD sales report is in, with Bioshock Infinite taking top spot on the retail software list. The Xbox 360 was the top selling console for the 20th month in a row in the United States. 261,000 units were sold in March, with retail spending totaling $402 million. This includes all revenues from hardware, software, and accessories made at retail. Unit sales in March 2012 were 371,000 (a drop of approximately 30 percent).
According to the NPD analysis, overall hardware sales are down 32 percent, with portable hardware falling shorter. Interestingly, sales of the 3DS are up over March 2012 by nine percent. Software sales for the 3DS saw a 50 percent increase over last March thanks to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, in particular.
March is becoming a hot month, with eight of the top ten games representing new launches. This is the most for this month since the NPD started recording retail sales in 1995. Take Two Interactive saw a banner period, with sales of NBA 2K13 and Bioshock Infinite (which had a better first month than either of the previous Bioshock titles) lifting them to their best March on record.
Tomb Raider performed well (better than any other first month in series history), but as we know, it didn't do enough for Square Enix. Two platform exclusives, Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension finished third and fourth respectively.
The big news on the software side is that sales were up for the first time since November 2011. The two percent lift is a combination of fewer, but stronger, launches and a comparison to March 2012, which was very weak. Here are the top ten best selling titles for March 2013:
UPDATE: Nintendo has announced that they sold over 20 million software units last month. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has sold over 415,000 copies. Approximately 50,000 of those were digital purchases. Fire Emblem: Awakening sold an additional 64,000 units (combined digital and physical) to bring the total to more than 240,000. In total, Nintendo software improved 50 percent over last March (which we already noted was a markedly weak period). Nintendo did not specify how many Wii U units were sold in March.
For context, according to the federal government, retail is up across most of the country at a modest to moderate pace, though some regions experienced stagnation and decline. Overall, the economy is reported to have improved at a moderate pace. The growth in software sales is in line with what other sectors are experiencing, and hardware declines can be attributed to how late we are into the hardware cycle and the imminent release of next generation consoles.