February 2016 NPD: PlayStation 4 Leads Hardware Sales, Far Cry Primal Tops Software Sales

by Brian Shea on Mar 10, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Sony has claimed the top spot for hardware and software sales for February 2016 according to the latest NPD report. In January, Sony and Black Ops III posted the highest numbers. This month, Sony continued its hardware and software dominance, while Far Cry Primal was the highest selling physical release.

Overall, hardware and software sales were down when compared to last year, as hardware and new physical software combined to drop 12 percent when compared to the same time frame last year. Hardware sales dropped by 23 percent when compared to last February, with portable hardware taking the biggest hit at 58 percent. According to NPD, this is thanks in large part to Nintendo's February 2015 launch of the New Nintendo 3DS hardware, which served as the highest selling hardware of February 2015. A year removed from the launch, sales have slowed, and the February 2016 numbers reflect that. However, portable hardware wasn't the only culprit in contributing to the overall decline, as seventh and eight generation hardware also declined. Last-gen consoles saw a massive drop to the tune of 77 percent when compared to last year, while current-gen hardware only dipped by 6 percent. According to the report, current-gen hardware now accounts for 86 percent of all hardware sales in the industry, as more and more gamers move to the latest tech from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Software sales dropped 10 percent when compared to last February, but several sequels delivered strong results, pushing it them to outperform their predecessors. Far Cry Primal, February's top game, outperformed Far Cry 4 if you adjust for how many days it was available last month when compared to how many days Far Cry 4 was available in its launch month of November 2014. Fire Emblem Fates also sold well, but its split into multiple SKUs hurt its standing. According to the NPD Group, if Fire Emblem Fates' sales were combined, it would have placed third overall for new physical sales, topping the juggernaut that is Grand Theft Auto V and tripling the first-month sales for Fire Emblem: Awakening. Since the game was released as multiple SKUs on 3DS, however, only Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright charted in the top ten, coming in at number 9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also outsold its predecessor by 90 percent if the days each game was available in its first month were adjusted. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also claimed the boast of being the top-selling single SKU release based on its PS4 version, but it landed fourth on the overall top ten list for the month.

Despite these individual successes in the software space, overall spending dropped by 4 percent when compared to last year, while overall units sold dropped by 12 percent. Just like in hardware, portable software saw a big decline (30 percent) due to February 2015 holding the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Last-gen software also dropped massively to the tune of 52 percent, while current-gen software grew by 14 percent.

The leader in both hardware and software sales in February 2016 was Sony. In response to this news, Sony provided the following statement:

"We would like to thank our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling hardware platform and the software sales leader in February, according to NPD. We continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth for PS4 hardware and software and are truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm from gamers. We will continue to deliver amazing gaming experiences with the upcoming launches of Ratchet & Clank, MLB The Show 16 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End."

Microsoft also had good news to celebrate, as exclusive game sales and hours spent gaming sharply rose. Microsoft provided the following statement from Mike Nichols, corporate vice president of Xbox marketing:

"The unmatched lineup of games available on Xbox One continues to generate a strong response from gamers as seen through global Xbox Live engagement and exclusive game sales. Compared to February 2015, exclusive Xbox One U.S. game sales drove a 49 percent increase and the total number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One worldwide rose 93 percent. Earlier this week, we launched the Xbox One 'Tom Clancy’s The Division’ Bundle to coincide with Ubisoft’s release of ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’ and looking ahead to this spring, fans can look forward to the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated ‘Quantum Break,’ launching on both Xbox One and Windows 10 on April 5, as well as the built-for-Windows 10 visual showcase, ‘Forza Motorsport 6: Apex.’ We are truly grateful to our fans for choosing to play the greatest games lineup in Xbox history across Windows 10 devices, and are excited to share more in the coming months on our full lineup of holiday exclusives as well as new innovations, features and experiences coming to Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live.”

Though the rest of the industry's overall sales declined when compared to February 2015, accessories enjoyed modest growth of 1% as controllers and headsets sold well, while point and subscription cards eclipsed the $1 billion mark for the first time on a 12-month rolling basis.

Here is the full top ten software list for February 2016:

  1. Far Cry Primal (PS4, XBO)
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS4, PC)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PS4, XBO)
  5. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  6. Lego Marvel's Avengers (PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U, PS4, 3DS, Vita)
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4)
  8. Minecraft (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)
  9. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS)
  10. Fallout 4 (PS4, XBO, PC)

Our Take
With so many questions surrounding Far Cry Primal leading up to launch, it might sound surprising that it outsold the last numbered entry in the series, Far Cry 4, when adjusted for how many days it was available in its first month. However, with the NPD numbers demonstrating how many consumers are moving on to current generation hardware, it comes as much less of a surprise. As expected, the mainstay entries in the monthly NPD reports – Call of Duty, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto – remain strong on the list. The hardware numbers may seem alarming, but it's just further indication that people have flocked to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U and that the consumer support for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii will only continue to dwindle from here.