News Article

NPDs: Microsoft Tries to Spin Figures as Industry Shrinks in April

Posted by Ken Barnes

A strange response

April 2016's NPD figures are in and on the surface, they make for somewhat depressing reading for gamers.

NPD is reporting that year-on-year in the US, the industry shrank by 15%, from a total of $598.1 million in sales in the US across software, hardware, and accessories, to $509.5 million. Hardware was down 23%, software declined by 21%, while accessories - including "toys-to-life" products - grew by 4%. There's no cause for concern though, since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are still trending 40 percent higher than the 30-month sales of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

One of the reasons for the decline was that in April last year, Mortal Kombat X was released, and it performed a lot better than many expected, shifting consoles and providing a big boost to numbers.

Unsurprisingly, PlayStation 4 was the biggest selling console of the month, but none of the manufacturers decided to respond to the hardware numbers this time around. Microsoft though, did issue a statement, spinning the numbers to focus on user engagement, rather than sales. They said:-

Thanks to our fans, April 2016 was the best month in history for global engagement on Xbox One, driven by the greatest games lineup, including the critically-acclaimed Quantum Break, Dark Souls III, and Tom Clancy's The Division," says Microsoft's corporate vice president of marketing Mike Nichols. "We received a strong response to the Gears of War 4 Versus Multiplayer Beta last month, which lasted two weeks and attracted more than 1.6 million unique players who helped us test and shape what is expected to be our biggest game of the year...We look forward to sharing more on our vision and plans for continuing to deliver the best gaming experience on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live this year at E3 in June.

In terms of software, Quantum Break was among the best-selling titles of the month, with Minecraft and Call of Duty: Black Ops III continuing to sell best on Xbox One. The full top 10 for the month is below, with platforms listed in order of sales.

NPD US Software Top 10 - April 2016

  1. Dark Souls III (PS4, XO)
  2. Ratchet & Clank (PS4)
  3. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  4. Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4, XO, PC)
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XO, 360, PS3, PC)
  6. Minecraft (XO, 360, PS4, PS3)
  7. Quantum Break (XO)
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  9. NBA 2k16 (PS4, XO, 360, PS3)
  10. Star Fox: Zero (Wii U)

Game Screenshots

User Comments (14)

BAMozzy

#1

BAMozzy said:

Part of the decline in Hardware sales could be the 'rumours' of new consoles (NextBox, PS4k) as well as the announced NX. Why would people buy a console if in the next 6-10months, a new, more powerful console could be available?

Game sales could be down because over the last 4-5 months, we haven't seen that many 'big' game releases - at least not as many as last year. April may have had MKX last year but its still cumulative - games released in the months prior are still selling and count towards the figures.

So far I do think its been 'quiet' for games and with a lot of rumours around new hardware, its probably affecting sales.

Captain_Chao5

#2

Captain_Chao5 said:

I have to agree with @BAMozzy. If I were in the market for a console, I'd be holding out until the new console rumours are confirmed.

stylon

#3

stylon said:

Agree with the comments above about the rumours... that sort of thing really impacts a lot of peoples' buying decisions. I know I would certainly be holding off on a new Xbox purchase until at least E3 to see what announcements are made...

The whole idea of there being a new more powerful console from either Sony or Microsoft really annoys me at this stage in their life-cycles to be honest. If I'd wanted this sort of scenario I would have gone back to PC gaming...

BAMozzy

#4

BAMozzy said:

@stylon I can totally understand that PoV but I also want a more powerful console. I don't want to be playing games like Mirrors Edge, BF1, SW:BF etc at 720/60 because that's all the XB1 can handle with Frostbite 3 games.

Obviously its 'disappointing' that my current consoles (XB1 and PS4) are not able to deliver the gaming experience as envisioned by the developers. The fact they are having to make sacrifices to the resolution and/or frame rate just to get the games to run on these is indicative of how far technology has leapt and how far behind these consoles are. I know that from a 'market' perspective, they are less than 3yrs old but from a technological PoV, they are a lot of years behind. When games are being directly affected, it is clear to me that an upgrade is necessary. Games like Mirrors Edge - at least in the Beta - had the worst draw distances, worst lighting, worst shadows/reflections and only managed 720/60 on XB1.

Its almost 'forcing' people to buy into the PC market to get the 'best' gaming experience. Not just resolution in every case but frame-rates also affect how a game plays - DS3 for example is only 30fps and that can't be locked at 30fps at 900p on XB1.

I had hoped that DX12 would have given the XB1 a 'boost' and of course the 'cloud computing' too but neither have had any impact - at least not yet. SW:BF for example is the 'first' game to run DX12 on the XB1 yet still only manages the same performance 'stats' of games like CoD4 on the XB360. I know there is a lot more visual punch but compared to PS4, the difference is certainly noticeable (that runs at 900/60).

I would certainly agree that in an 'ideal' world a console should last about 5yrs (min). The XB1 though launched at a time before some very big advances in technology. Not just hardware but also Software. That has caused the current consoles to 'appear' older than their market age. I know the XB1 has some games at 1080/60 but there is a lot of compromises in those to get that performance. Forza 6 (for example) has mixed frame-rates for certain aspects - the in-car view, the rear view mirror only runs at 30fps. Rain on the windscreen is only 30fps too. The visuals in certain parts are very poor - whether you notice or not whilst driving though is debatable.

The fact that developers are having to spend a lot of time downgrading things - not just resolution/frame-rate but lighting, shadows, reflections, draw distances etc and that often 'frame-rate' issues are 'blamed' on them rather than the inadequate hardware isn't great.

I don't know what games you like but I can't see Battlefield 1 running anywhere near as good as that trailer looked. I know that was in-game engine but on XB1 that engine can't run games above 720/60. Being partnered with MS could affect their sales, the overall impression etc if they have to show off 720/60 game-play with compromises to the visuals too - especially as the PC versions 'could' run up to 4k/60 (although more likely most will run at least at 1080/60) with all the effects turned on to max. I know it would require a mega-rig but the point is that's the way the game is developed and envisioned - anything less is compromise.

How much longer can you see the current consoles lasting without some more impacting compromises? things like loading screens, pop-up, significantly reduced draw distances,

I believe that MS and Sony 'had' to release their next console when they did to be able to continue delivering the games in development - games like the Witcher 3, Arkham Knight etc but it was too early for the next wave of technology - things like DX12, the new chips and architecture even things like VR. With all that technology now 'finalised' and the 'specs' known, it is far easier to build a console that can last beyond 3years.

stylon

#5

stylon said:

@BAMozzy To be honest I just don't remember any other console generation where there has been such an obsession of nitpicking the graphical fidelity of games. Maybe it's the switch in focus from reading reviews in paper based magazines to the web where things like Digital Foundry and YouTube reviewers exist purely to profit from fanning the flames of discontent...

I just want to play the latest games and am not really bothered by, or interested in, the sacrifices that were required to make it happen. If that means having to play at 720p for the rest of this generation then I'm fine with that...

Gamer83

#6

Gamer83 said:

I've played some great games this gen, a few I'd say have earned a spot in my top 20 all-time, but lets be real... the entire generation has been a bit of a mess since it started in November 2012. Wii U being an absolute non-factor has certainly contributed to a less than rosey outlook on console gaming. Last gen we had three healthy platforms, this gen it's just two. And even those two are now losing steam because Sony and MS want to re-invent the wheel. I actually think it's necessary because these two companies idiotically let the last gen drag on two years too long and now have to scramble to keep up with changing tech and the demands of gamers but they did it to themselves. I'm interested to see in the long run how this hurts or doesn't hurt the console market. But I'll always stand behind that PS4 and Xbox One should've been launched in 2011 and later this year we should be looking at PS5 and Xbox 'Two.'

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed playing both Ratchet & Clank and Quantum Break and have actually played through each more than once. Happy to see both performed well and despite it receiving a lot of heat, I'm also happy to see Star Fox Zero in there. I didn't want the series to disappear because Miyamoto, all due respect to him as he is a legend and his games a reason I'm into gaming, is past his prime and his crazy decision making does mesh well with 2016. By most accounts it's just the controls that are the problem with the game. Hopefully I'll be able to get Star Fox Zero remastered for NX with normal controls.

BAMozzy

#7

BAMozzy said:

@Gamer83 Last gen definitely went on 2 years to long. If you consider the Xbox brand launched in 2001, allowing 5yrs per console, we should be getting the next one this year. PS5 would have launched a couple of years ago.

Some people maybe 'happy' playing games at 720p but in a years time, IF gaming continues to improve/grow etc, games are not going to run on the XB1 - not without fundamentally changing the experience - I doubt they would drop the resolution below 720 so the only other option is to reduce the AI/NPC, reduce the draw distances, remove the textures, lighting etc - all of which helps create the immersion and enhance the experience.

I would rather buy a console every 3years than have my gaming compromised to the level that the XB1 is currently outputting. Its fast becoming the WiiU of this generation - only good for exclusives because you can't play them elsewhere and 'better' experiences too. Its NOT just the resolution, but more solid frame rates which are more important, 60fps is far more preferable to 30fps too. Given the choice of 720/60 (or worse - 30fps), 900/60 or 1080+/60 (min) I know which I, and many others would opt for. The XB1, despite being cheaper, despite offering BC etc still can't match the sales of PS4 even when it has no 'exclusives' releasing. Its only going to get worse with Sony and Nintendo releasing much more powerful consoles.

A_BabyRed_Yoshi

#8

A_BabyRed_Yoshi said:

@BAMozzy
You're gaming is compromised because the XB1 doesn't run well? I have tons of games, all of which run great and doesn't compromise anything. The XB1 is clearly capable of outputting at a ridiculously high performance...like Halo 5 for example. 24 players with AI and vehicles, all at 1080/60, never ever a single frame drop.
I think it's a little dramatic to say it's compromising your gaming

KelticDevil

#9

KelticDevil said:

@A_BabyRed_Yoshi

Don't listen to him anyways. He rarely makes sense despite every post being 15 paragraphs. Lol.

But as to the topic in the article......

I agree with some previous posts. The leaked info about newer consoles is probably killing Sony & Microsoft. Why would anyone buy an Xbox One or PS4 right now with E3 right around the corner? It makes more sense to wait.

Utena-mobile

#11

Utena-mobile said:

@A_BabyRed_Yoshi I feel like developers should focus more on making good stories and relateable main characters, rather than see if they can cram one more blade of grass in the wind, or an extra sparkle of gun bursts.

We have everything we need to play good games right now.

BAMozzy

#12

BAMozzy said:

@A_BabyRed_Yoshi There is a lot more to games and graphics than just resolution and frame-rates. I wouldn't be surprised if any 'remastered' game from the XB360 era (or before) couldn't be made to run at 1080/60 (well apart from Tomb Raider as that only managed 30fps on XB1) but there is a reason that games like SW:BF runs at 720/60 on XB1 and Halo 5 runs at 1080/60 and that's the difference in things like lighting, shadows, particle effects etc. Games like Halo 5 look good on XB1 but compared to other games it lacks a lot of the 'effects' of other games. As I said - even games like Forza 'cheat' to get 1080/60 by dumbing down a lot of the peripherals and certain parts don't even run at 1080/60 - things like rear view mirror and the rain on windscreen. Cars in the rear view mirror are also not 'great' in terms of image quality but as you rarely look at these things for more than a micro-second, its maybe not that noticeable. This video will show you some of these and how it cheats to get a 1080/60
.
Games in general in this generation have a lot more visual effects - lighting, shadows, reflections, smoke, particles etc. Sure if games go back to the standards of last gen but just 'tart' up the visuals a bit, then games will hit 1080/60 on XB1 but apart from MS and maybe indies, 3rd party games are 'generally' more complex and why they can't hit 1080/60.

Gamer83

#14

Gamer83 said:

I actually agree with @BAMozzy to an extent. People love to say graphics are 'good enough now' a common phrase uttered in the later PS3 and 360 days when it was more than obvious the generation had gone on too long. There's also my personal favorite... 'graphics don't matter,' but if that was true we'd all be gaming on the freaking NES still, or hell, the consoles that were released earlier. Graphics and performance are a big deal and can help make a game more immersive and while there are some games I've been thrilled with this gen, there's a lot where I can't help but feel that maybe we'd benefit from better hardware. Quantum Break being a prime example. Love the game but I think it's clear Remedy had to make some concessions. Naughty Dog, who are technical wizards couldn't get Uncharted 4 to go 1080p, 60 fps and according to people who work there, actually struggled with The Last of Us Remastered. Like it or not, new machines are needed, especially if Nintendo is not joking around with NX and with its new president being more of a businessman who seems to be willing to force Nintendo to change, I have to believe NX will be a serious piece of hardware. With that being the case, and not to mention PC gaming gaining more traction as the years go by, Sony and MS have to react.

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