September 2021 NPD: Tales of Arise, Deathloop help set industry sales records

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Consumers in the United States continue to spend a lot of money on video games. While many of the people who invested in the hobby during the pandemic have retreated back to other forms of entertainment, a significant portion continue to buy and play games. And enough did so in September to set a new record for the month, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Here are the full results for the September 2021 NPD gaming report:

September 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions Sep 2020 Sep 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $4,248 $4,363 3%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $3,779 $3,781 0%
Video Game Hardware $276 $412 49%
Video Game Accessories $193 $171 -12%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“September 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories grew 3% when compared to a year ago, reaching a September record $4.4 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Year-to-date consumer spending reached $42.3 billion, a 12% increase when compared to the same period in 2020.”

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions YTD 2020 YTD 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $37,738 $42,275 12%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $33,839 $37,108 10%
Video Game Hardware $2,285 $3,409 49%
Video Game Accessories $1,614 $1,759 9%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Familiar sports properties like Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K continued to perform well. As did Activision’s Diablo and Call of Duty. But new games like Tales of Arise and Deathloop also contributed to a strong September. New-gen console like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X were responsible for the bulk of the growth, though.

Let’s do the software charts.

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September 2021 NPD: Top 20 best-selling games of the month in the United States

NPD tracks physical sales at retailers, but it also gets digital data directly from publishers. Not every company participates. For example, Nintendo doesn’t share its first-party sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales.

Rank Last Month Rank September 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
2 NEW FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
3 NEW NBA 2K22* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
4 NEW Tales of Arise Bandai Namco Entertainment
5 NEW Diablo II: Resurrected Activision Blizzard (Corp)
6 NEW Deathloop Bethesda Softworks
7 3 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 2 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
9 5 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
10 NEW Life is Strange: True Colors Square Enix Inc (Corp)
11 6 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
12 NEW Diablo Prime Evil Collection Activision Blizzard (Corp)
13 NEW Sonic Colors: Ultimate Sega
14 8 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
15 NEW WarioWare: Get It Together!* Nintendo
16 9 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
17 11 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
18 14 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
19 12 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
20 16 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

A deluge of new games gave a boost to September software sales. As usual, licensed sports games were dominant. But one of the other big stories for the month is the strong showing for PlayStation 5 exclusives or console-exclusives. Deathloop finished at No. 6, Ghost of Tsushima was No. 8, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was No. 10 for September.

For Deathloop, that is a decent showing for a new IP. But it’s maybe even more impressive that Sony is able to get legs out of Tsushima and Miles Morales. Sony wants to make games that continue to sell at a high price for months or even years, and it seems like it is figuring out how to make that strategy work.

The undercurrent for all the games on the software chart is that consumers are still thirsty for content. That is leading to multiple games setting record debuts for their respective franchises. And while publishers know that gamers are ready to spend a lot of money on games, those companies are struggling to produce that content at a rapid enough pace.

Madden NFL 22

Critics and fans don’t seem to love Madden NFL 22, and yet it continues to sell.

“Madden NFL 22 repeated as the best-selling game of the month,” said Piscatella. “It now ranks as the #2 best-selling game of 2021 year to date, and is the fourth best-selling title of the 12-month period ending September 2021. Madden NFL 22 was the best-selling game of September 2021 on both PlayStation and Xbox.”

Tales of Arise

Critics and fans do love Bandai Namco’s Tales of Arise role-playing adventure. And those players are rewarding the publisher for the effort.

“Tales of Arise set a new launch month dollar sales record for any Tales Of franchise release,” said Piscatella. “Tales of Arise ranked as the fourth best-selling game of September 2021.”

Life is Strange: True Colors

Life is Strange also set a record for its series.

“Life is Strange: True Colors launched as September’s No. 10 best-selling game,” said Piscatella. “Life is Strange: True Colors generated the highest launch month dollar sales for any Life is Strange title to date.”

WarioWare: Get It Together

Nintendo’s new game for September didn’t set a franchise record, according to NPD’s data.

“WarioWare: Get It Together debuted as the 15th overall best-selling game of September, while also ranking second on Nintendo Switch,” said Piscatella. “WarioWare: Get It Together achieved the highest launch month sales for a WarioWare franchise release since WarioWare Smooth Moves launched on Nintendo Wii in January 2007.”

But Nintendo doesn’t share digital sales with NPD, and it’s likely that WarioWare: Get It Together did a significant split of its revenue through the Switch’s eShop.

Top 10 best-selling games so far this year

Rank Last Month Rank Year-to-Date Ending September 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 4 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
3 2 MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
4 3 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
5 5 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
6 6 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
7 7 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
8 9 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
9 8 Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
10 10 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending September 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
4 15 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
5 3 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
6 9 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
7 8 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
8 10 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
9 11 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
10 12 MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

September 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo-platform games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank September 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
2 NEW WarioWare: Get It Together!* Nintendo
3 3 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
4 NEW Diablo II: Resurrected Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
6 5 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
7 2 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword* Nintendo
8 7 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
9 6 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
10 NEW Sonic Colors: Ultimate Sega
* Digital sales not included

September 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation-platform games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank September 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
2 NEW FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
3 NEW NBA 2K22* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
4 NEW Deathloop Bethesda Softworks
5 NEW Tales of Arise Bandai Namco Entertainment
6 2 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
7 3 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
8 NEW Diablo II: Resurrected Activision Blizzard (Corp)
9 4 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
10 NEW Life is Strange: True Colors Square Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

September 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox-platform games in the U.S.

Rank Last Month Rank September 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
2 NEW FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
3 NEW NBA 2K22* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
4 NEW Diablo II: Resurrected Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 2 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
6 NEW Tales of Arise Bandai Namco Entertainment
7 NEW Diablo Prime Evil Collection Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
9 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
10 NEW Life is Strange: True Colors Square Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

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