October 2021 NPD: Far Cry and Metroid rocket industry sales up 16%

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Gaming fans in the United States showed up in a big way in October when it comes to spending money on their hobby. All sectors of the market were up year-over-year, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Once again, hardware saw the biggest pop with an 82% leap compared to the same period in 2020. But software was also up double-digits with 11% growth despite a tough comparison to a full stay-at-home pandemic year. Here are the full results:

October 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions Oct 2020 Oct 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $3,792 $4,388 16%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $3,381 $3,758 11%
Video Game Hardware $260 $472 82%
Video Game Accessories $151 $158 5%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“October 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content and accessories grew 16% when compared to a year ago, reaching an October record $4.4 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Year-to-date consumer spending reached $46.7 billion, gaining 12% when compared to the same period in 2020.”

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, Millions YTD 2020 YTD 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $41,532 $46,665 12%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $37,223 $40,866 10%
Video Game Hardware $2,544 $3,882 53%
Video Game Accessories $1,765 $1,917 9%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

A significant portion of the credit for the performance of October 2021 should go to its strong new game releases. While October 2020 had the debut of a new FIFA and Watch Dogs: Legion, October 2021 had significantly more heavy hitters. That includes Far Cry 6, Back 4 Blood, and Metroid: Dread.

The new game sales likely also got some extra juice thanks to the thirst for the new-gen hardware. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X continue to fly off of shelves as fast as they hit them.

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Let’s get to the game charts.

October 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 October 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 NEW Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
2 NEW Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
3 NEW Metroid: Dread* Nintendo
4 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
5 NEW Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Hinokami Chronicles Sega
6 2 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
7 NEW Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Square Enix Inc (Corp)
8 NEW Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
9 NEW NHL 22 Electronic Arts
10 3 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
11 11 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
12 7 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
13 8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
14 17 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
15 18 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
16 14 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
17 9 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
18 5 Diablo II: Resurrected Activision Blizzard (Corp)
19 20 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
20 25 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

NHL 2022 is a useful as a quick reference point for the strength of this year’s crop of games as compared to 2020. According to fans of the hockey series (including myself), this is one of the best EA Sports hockey games in years. And so you would expect comparable sales, at least, for NHL 22 compared to NHL 21. And yet, eight games rank above NHL 22 this year when only three ranked above NHL 21 last October.

And you can see that the bulk of the growth came from significant new launches and sequels. And then the rest of the chart was a lot of familiar, perennial hits like Mario Kart 8, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Minecraft.

Far Cry 6

Far Cry 5 was one of Ubisoft’s best-selling games ever, and Far Cry 6 looks like it maintained some of that momentum. But the game didn’t instantly jump into the top 5 for best-selling games so far this year, and maybe that indicates people are waiting until they can get a PS5 or Xbox Series X before picking this game up.

“Far Cry 6 debuted as October’s best-selling game, instantly becoming the 8th best-selling game of 2021 to date,” said Piscatella. “Far Cry 6 ranked first on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms in October.”

Back 4 Blood

Back 4 Blood is another great example of Xbox Game Pass not really damaging the sales for a new release. This cooperative shooter launched onto Microsoft’s Netflix for games, and yet it still was the No. 2 best-selling game overall. More notably, it was the No. 2 best-selling game on both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 charts, which you can read below.

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread, meanwhile, is an obvious success story. This Nintendo franchise has never sold as well as Mario or Zelda, and yet this game is outselling major multiplatform third-party releases like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

“Metroid: Dread debuted as October’s No. 3 best-selling game, while ranking first on Nintendo Switch,” said Piscatella. “Metroid: Dread achieved the highest launch month sales of any Metroid franchise release in tracked history. Launch month physical dollar sales nearly doubled those of the previous best, Metroid: Prime.”

What’s incredible here is that Dread’s numbers do not include any digital sales. So even though it nearly doubled Prime’s sales, it more likely quadrupled it when you factor in a modest 50/50 split between digital and physical sales.

Top 10 best-selling games so far in 2021

Rank Last Month Rank Year-to-Date Ending October 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 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
3 3 MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
4 4 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 NEW Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
9 8 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
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 October 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 3 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
4 4 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
5 6 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
6 7 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
7 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
8 9 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
9 10 MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
10 11 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

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

Rank Last Month Rank October 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Metroid: Dread* Nintendo
2 NEW Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
3 1 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
4 3 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
5 5 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
6 8 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
7 6 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
8 9 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
9 12 Minecraft* Nintendo
10 11 New Super Mario Bros.* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

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

Rank Last Month Rank October 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
2 NEW Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
3 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
4 2 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
5 NEW Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Hinokami Chronicles Sega
6 NEW Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Square Enix Inc (Corp)
7 NEW NHL 22 Electronic Arts
8 3 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
9 6 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
10 7 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

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

Rank Last Month Rank October 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
2 NEW Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
3 1 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
4 2 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
5 NEW Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Hinokami Chronicles Sega
6 NEW NHL 22 Electronic Arts
7 5 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 NEW Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Square Enix Inc (Corp)
9 3 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
10 8 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

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