August 2020 NPD: Madden and UFC supercharge U.S. game sales

The gaming audience in the United States showed up to spend money again last month. Consumers spent $3.3 billion on video game hardware, software, and accessories in August, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 37% year-over-year from $2.4 billion. Strong debuts for Madden and UFC as well as resilient performances for Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fueled the growth. Here are the full results for August:

August 2020 Dollar Sales (in millions)Aug’19Aug’20CHG
Total Video Game Sales$2,431$3,33037%
Video Game Hardware$167$22937%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms)$2,147$2,93537%
Video Game Accessories$117$16642%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“Digital content on console platforms, mobile content, and subscription spending were among the largest growth segments,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Year-to-date spending reached $29.4 billion, 23% higher than the same period in 2019. Content, hardware, and accessory spending each increased by more than 20% when compared to the same period a year ago.”

Video games are thriving in the complicated world of a global pandemic. Live entertainment is still mostly non-existent, and that has consumers turning to in-home options. And consoles like Nintendo Switch are at the top of that list.

“Video game content spending reached $2.9 billion in August 2020, increasing 37% when compared to a year ago,” Piscatella said. “Year-to-date content spending now exceeds $25.9 billion, a 22% increase compared to the same period last year.”

Let’s check the software sales.

August 2020 NPD: Best-selling software

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. This chart also does not include microtransactions, subscriptions, or anything beyond full-game sales. With those caveats in mind, it is best to think of this as a very useful snapshot of a much more dynamic industry.

All Platforms
RankLast Month RankAugust 2020 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 salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 21Electronic Arts
2NEWUFC 4Electronic Arts
32Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
41Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
55Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
66Ring Fit AdventureNintendo
78Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
89Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
93Paper Mario: The Origami King*Nintendo
107Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
1112The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
124The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
1311Minecraft: PlayStation 4 EditionMicrosoft (Corp)
14NEWPGA Tour 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
1514New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*Nintendo
1627Super Mario Party*Nintendo
1713Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: SiegeUbisoft
1826Super Mario Odyssey*Nintendo
1941Final Fantasy VII: RemakeSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
2034Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo

Madden NFL 21

In the United States, Madden is something like an annual ringing of the bell. It launches, and that means the fall game rush has begun. And it got off to a blazing start this year despite a cool critical reception.

“Madden NFL 21 was the best-selling title of August, with double-digit percentage dollar sales growth when compared to the release month of Madden NFL 20,” Piscatella said. “Madden NFL 21 debuts as the No. 6 best-selling game year to date. This is the 21st consecutive year that a Madden NFL franchise release has the best-selling game in its release month. Madden NFL is the best-selling sports (and third best-selling overall) video game franchise in U.S. history.”

UFC 4

EA Sports dominated August. Like in most things in this report, you can chalk up some of this demand to people feeling starved for sports due to the pandemic.

“UFC 4 was the second best-selling game of the month, setting a new franchise launch month sales record for an Electronic Arts-published UFC title,” Piscatella said. “UFC 4 ranked as the third best-selling game of August on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.”

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Square Enix began dropping the price of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and that helped boost the massive RPG’s sales.

“Final Fantasy VII Remake returned to the top 20 best-selling titles chart (#19) in August after finishing 41st in July. The title was featured at a discounted price digitally on the PlayStation Store.”

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ranked as the sixth best-selling title on Nintendo Switch in August,” Piscatella said. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has ranked among the top 10 best sellers on Switch every month since its March 2017 launch — a period of 42 consecutive months, never placing lower than seventh. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the 10th best-selling game released on Nintendo platforms in U.S. tracked history.

Best-selling games so far in 2020

All Platforms
RankLast Month RankYear-to-Date Ending August 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 salesPublisher
11Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
22Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
33The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
44Final Fantasy VII: RemakeSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
55Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
6NEWMadden NFL 21Electronic Arts
76Dragon Ball Z: KakarotBandai Namco Entertainment
87MLB: The Show 20Sony (Corp)
99Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
1010Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive

Best-selling games of the last 12 months

All Platforms
RankLast Month Rank12 Months Ending August 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 salesPublisher
11Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
23Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen OrderElectronic Arts
32Madden NFL 20Electronic Arts
44NBA 2K20*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
55Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
66The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
77FIFA 20Electronic Arts
88Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
99Pokemon: Sword*Nintendo
1010Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo

Xbox One

RankLast Month RankAugust 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 21Electronic Arts
21Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
3NEWUFC 4Electronic Arts
47Forza Horizon 4Microsoft (Corp)
54Minecraft: Xbox One EditionMicrosoft (Corp)
610Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIActivision Blizzard (Corp)
715GroundedMicrosoft (Corp)
8NEWPGA Tour 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
96Rainbow Six: Siege [Tom Clancy’s]Ubisoft
102Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4
RankLast Month RankAugust 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 21Electronic Arts
21Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
3NEWUFC 4Electronic Arts
43Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
52The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
64Minecraft: PlayStation 4 EditionMicrosoft (Corp)
714Final Fantasy VII: RemakeSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
85MLB: The Show 20Sony (Corp)
97Marvel’s Spider-ManSony (Corp)
10NEWPGA Tour 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch
RankLast Month RankAugust 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
12Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
23Ring Fit AdventureNintendo
34Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
45Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
51Paper Mario: The Origami King*Nintendo
66The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
77New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*Nintendo
89Super Mario Party*Nintendo
98Super Mario Odyssey*Nintendo
1012Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

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