NPD: November Biggest Month for Gaming Hardware on Record

I don’t want to do this. I really don’t… but I do have a reason for deciding to report on the NPD Group’s November sales figures for the videogame industry.

First things first: the numbers that NPD reports are NOT to be considered a final, complete look at actual sales because NPD only tracks physical retail sales, not digital. So everything sold via a tiny little digital shop that only a handful of people buy things at, like, say, I don’t know, Amazon.com? Not factored, no impact on NPD’s numbers. How about Steam (which reported a record 7.2 million concurrent users in November, users who very likely bought a couple games in Steam’s Autumn Sale)? Nope, even if NPD did track digital sales, Valve doesn’t share its numbers with anyone. Oh, and for the record, this is also a U.S.-only tracker, not a global thing.

Okay! Now that we’ve put it in its proper perspective, here’s what the NPD Group had to say: November was the biggest month for hardware sales on record, with more than $1.3 billion worth of gaming machines sold.

Unsurprisingly, NPD says Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One led the way, noting that the PS4 enjoyed the “highest first month sales of a hardware platform on record.” That’s a nice achievement that Sony immediately jumped on, (even if, as noted, the numbers are horribly incomplete) declaring: “PlayStation was #1 in sales overall for home consoles,” and the “PS4 launch is the biggest ever in the history of game consoles.”

Just one problem with those proclamations: the PS4 launched on November 15th and had 17 days to rack up retails sales in the U.S. The Xbox One launched on November 22 and had nine days of “first month launch” sales according to the NPD’s report. Could just be me, but throwing around hyperbole like “highest first month sales on record” and “biggest ever” seems nutty in this scenario. Why not wait until both systems have been on the market for 30 full days (you know, an actual month) before handing out launch month trophies?

Anywho, NPD reports the Xbox One was the biggest launch in Microsoft’s history and it actually sold more units on an “average per-week basis” than the PlayStation 4. Do with that seemingly contradictory set of facts what you will.

NPD also reports on software sales, but at this point, I don’t even want to get into it.

So with incomplete numbers and skewed interpretations, why report on any of this in the first place? Because after you cut through all the fat, you get to some relevant meat: the gaming industry, at this the outset of a new generation of consoles, is healthy and growing. Both new consoles are doing well (not to mention the continued record growth of Steam, the barometer for all of PC gaming), and that’s a good thing for all of gamingkind.

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