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The games industry experienced a post-holidays slump in the first month of 2023, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Every sector of gaming sales the firm recorded in January either dipped or remained level, though this isn’t surprising given the general downward trajectory of gaming sales over the last year and the post-holiday period. However, several newly-released January games did well enough to hit the best sellers chart.
|January 2023 Dollar Sales, Millions||Jan
|Total Video Game Sales||$4,589||$4,347||-5%|
|Total Video Game Sales $7,428 $7,583 2%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms)
|Video Game Hardware||$392||$393||0%|
|Video Game Accessories||$191||$165||-14%|
“January 2023 marks the first time the U.S. video game market experienced a year-on-year decline since September 2022, when consumer spending reached 4% below September 2021 levels,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. “Drops in mobile content, physical console content and gamepad spending drove the January shortfall.”
Last year, hardware sales boomed year-over-year by 22%, and this year the industry appears to be holding to the same level. Piscatella said of hardware: “Growth in PlayStation 5 and Switch hardware spending was offset by declines across other platforms.” Accessories sales, on the other hand, fell dramatically compared with the previous year, with gamepads being one of the biggest areas hit.
January 2023 NPD: Top 20 best-selling games of the month in the U.S.
|1||1||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2022)||Activision Blizzard (Corp)|
|2||NEW||Dead Space (2023)||Electronic Arts|
|3||4||Madden NFL 23||Electronic Arts|
|4||5||FIFA 23||Electronic Arts|
|5||NEW||Fire Emblem Engage*||Nintendo|
|6||7||Elden Ring||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|7||NEW||Forspoken||Square Enix Inc (Corp)|
|8||3||God of War: Ragnarok||Sony (Corp)|
|9||NEW||One Piece Odyssey||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|11||36||The Last of Us: Part 1||Sony (Corp)|
|13||68||Monster Hunter: Rise||Capcom USA|
|14||9||Mario Kart 8*||Nintendo|
|15||14||Minecraft||Multiple Video Game Manufacturers|
|16||8||Need for Speed: Unbound||Electronic Arts|
|17||12||Just Dance 2023 Edition||Ubisoft|
|18||11||NBA 2K23*||Take 2 Interactive (Corp)|
|19||21||Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales||Sony (Corp)|
|20||27||NHL 23||Electronic Arts|
Several of the new releases for January managed to make the charts, though crowd-pleaser Hi-Fi Rush just missed out — likely due to releasing near the very end of the month and its availability on Game Pass. The chart largely features the usuals: Call of Duty, sports titles and Pokémon. Other popular releases, including Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök, also remain in the top 10.
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Two games made a notable jump to the top 20 from low on the list: The Last of Us Part 1 and Monster Hunter Rise. The Last of Us is likely benefiting from the popularity of the HBO Max show based on the game, which premiered on January 15. Similarly, Monster Hunter Rise released on PlayStation and Xbox, which would account for its dramatic rise from 68th place to 13th.
Dead Space, Engage and Forspoken
Out of the new releases that charted on NPD’s list, Dead Space debuted at second place on the list. The series’ reputation — and given that it’s a remake of the beloved original — likely helped boost its profile. Similarly, Fire Emblem Engage put in a good showing thanks to the franchise’s positive reputation among both console gamers (with Fire Emblem: Three Houses) and mobile users (with Fire Emblem Heroes).
Forspoken, on the other hand, didn’t reach as high as the other two, coming in at 7th. It’s not a bad showing for a new IP — December’s The Callisto Protocol didn’t even break the top 15. However, some negative word of mouth might have contributed to the game’s lower ranking on the list, especially considering Engage’s ranking doesn’t take digital sales into account.
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