November 2020 NPD: Call of Duty dominates as next gen begins

November 2020 NPD: Call of Duty dominates as next gen begins

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X debuted in November, but gamers turned to recognizable franchises when it came to software. That led to record sales across all categories — but especially for hardware and software, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.

Here are the results for the month:

November 2020 Dollar Sales, Millions Nov 2019 Nov 2020 CHG
Total Video Game Sales $5,162 $6,973 35%
Video Game Hardware $897 $1,415 58%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $3,974 $5,244 32%
Video Game Accessories $291 $314 8%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“November 2020 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached a November record $7 billion, 35% higher when compared to a year ago,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Year-to-date spending totaled $44.5 billion, 22% higher than the same time period in 2019.”

2020 Year-to-Date Dollar Sales, Millions 2019 YTD 2020 YTD CHG
Total Video Game Sales $36,422 $44,468 22%
Video Game Hardware $2,959 $3,957 34%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $31,772 $38,439 21%
Video Game Accessories $1,691 $2,071 22%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Let’s check on the software sales for November.

November 2020 NPD: Familiar favorites top the charts

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

1 NEW Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 NEW Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
4 2 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 13 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
6 NEW Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity* Nintendo
7 3 Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
8 7 Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo
9 1 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
10 NEW Demon’s Souls Sony (Corp)
11 11 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
12 6 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
13 NEW Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
14 20 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo
15 26 Luigi’s Mansion 3* Nintendo
16 5 Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Nintendo
17 15 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
18 14 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix Inc (Corp)
19 24 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
20 12 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

It was a massive month for several new game launches, and Nintendo is once again dominating despite not reporting digital sales. The top 20 comprises eight Nintendo Switch games. That includes the No. 6 best-selling game of the month in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. But it also includes Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, which is just behind Demon’s Souls. And while that Mario Kart placement doesn’t count digital, it also doesn’t count copies of the game bundled in with hardware.

Beyond Nintendo, it was a big month for proven franchises.

Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War

“Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War was November’s best-selling game, and instantly becomes the best-selling game of 2020 year-to-date,” said Piscatella. “Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War represents 2020’s biggest launch. The title ranks first on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms for the month of November, as well as year to date.”

Black Ops — Cold War continues a streak for Call of Duty, which always outsells its competition during its debut month.

“This is the 13th consecutive year a Call of Duty game has ranked as the best-selling game of its release month,” said Piscatella.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

But Call of Duty isn’t the only friendly gaming face that gamers turned to in November. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise also contributed significantly to the record sales for the month.

“Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla debuted as the second best-selling game of November and is the seventh best-selling game year to date,” said Piscatella. “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla achieved the highest launch month sales for an Assassin’s Creed franchise title since the release of Assassin’s Creed III in 2012.”

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the third best-selling game of November, while ranking second on PlayStation platforms,” said Piscatella. “Launch month sales of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales are the second highest amongst superhero games on PlayStation platforms in U.S. history, trailing only the September 2018 sales of Marvel’s Spider-Man.”

Miles Morales is an example of why Sony wants to support games across PS5 and PS4 for at least the next year. Demon’s Souls finished behind Animal Crossing: New Horizons and FIFA 21. And that makes sense because the Bluepoint remake was only available on a console that has sold a few million units.

But “good enough for being on a few million units” isn’t an actual return on investment. And with Sony’s massive blockbuster budgets, it can’t afford anything but robust, Miles Morales-like sales.

Just Dance 2021

“Just Dance 2021 debuted at No. 13 on the November best-sellers chart,” said Piscatella. “Launch month sales of Just Dance 2021 were the second highest in franchise history. Only Just Dance 3, launched in October 2011, experienced a larger launch.”

Best-selling games so far in 2020

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank Year-to-Date Ending November 2020 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 NEW Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 2 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
4 3 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 4 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
6 5 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
7 NEW Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
8 6 Final Fantasy VII: Remake Square Enix Inc (Corp)
9 7 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix Inc (Corp)
10 8 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

Best-selling games of the last 12 months

All Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank 12 Months Ending November 2020 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: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
4 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 5 The Last of Us: Part II Sony (Corp)
6 7 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
7 2 Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order Electronic Arts
8 9 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
9 NEW Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
10 10 Final Fantasy VII: Remake Square Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games

Rank Last Month Rank November 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity* Nintendo
2 3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
3 4 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
4 2 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
5 9 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo
6 NEW Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
7 12 Luigi’s Mansion 3* Nintendo
8 1 Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Nintendo
9 5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
10 7 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation games

Rank Last Month Rank November 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
3 NEW Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
4 2 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 NEW Demon’s Souls Sony (Corp)
6 9 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
7 1 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
8 3 Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
9 4 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
10 NEW Sackboy: A Big Adventure Sony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox games

Rank Last Month Rank November 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 NEW Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 NEW Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 3 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
4 2 Watch Dogs: Legion Ubisoft
5 8 NBA 2K21* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
6 1 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
7 9 Marvel’s Avengers Square Enix Inc (Corp)
8 6 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
9 5 Star Wars: Squadrons Electronic Arts
10 4 NHL 21 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

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