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

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, MillionsNov 2019Nov 2020CHG
Total Video Game Sales$5,162$6,97335%
Video Game Hardware$897$1,41558%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$3,974$5,24432%
Video Game Accessories$291$3148%
* 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, Millions2019 YTD2020 YTDCHG
Total Video Game Sales$36,422$44,46822%
Video Game Hardware$2,959$3,95734%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$31,772$38,43921%
Video Game Accessories$1,691$2,07122%
* 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.

1NEWCall of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
2NEWAssassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
3NEWMarvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
42Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
513NBA 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
6NEWHyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity*Nintendo
73Watch Dogs: LegionUbisoft
87Animal Crossing: New HorizonsNintendo
91FIFA 21Electronic Arts
10NEWDemon’s SoulsSony (Corp)
1111Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
126Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
13NEWJust Dance 2021Ubisoft
1420New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*Nintendo
1526Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo
165Mario Kart Live: Home CircuitNintendo
1715Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
1814Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
1924Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
2012Ghost of TsushimaSony (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. “b v 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
RankLast Month RankYear-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 salesPublisher
1NEWCall of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
21Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
32Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
43Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
54The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
65Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
7NEWAssassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
86Final Fantasy VII: RemakeSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
97Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
108Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

Best-selling games of the last 12 months

All Platforms
RankLast Month Rank12 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 salesPublisher
11Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
2NEWCall of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
33Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
44Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
55The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
67Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
72Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen OrderElectronic Arts
89Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
9NEWAssassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
1010Final Fantasy VII: RemakeSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games

RankLast Month RankNovember 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWHyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity*Nintendo
23Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
34Mario Kart 8: Deluxe*Nintendo
42Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
59New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*Nintendo
6NEWJust Dance 2021Ubisoft
712Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo
81Mario Kart Live: Home CircuitNintendo
95Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
107The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation games

RankLast Month RankNovember 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWCall of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
2NEWMarvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
3NEWAssassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
42Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
5NEWDemon’s SoulsSony (Corp)
69NBA 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
71FIFA 21Electronic Arts
83Watch Dogs: LegionUbisoft
94Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
10NEWSackboy: A Big AdventureSony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

November 2020 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox games

RankLast Month RankNovember 2020 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWCall of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
2NEWAssassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
33Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
42Watch Dogs: LegionUbisoft
58NBA 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
61FIFA 21Electronic Arts
79Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
86Call of Duty: Modern WarfareActivision Blizzard (Corp)
95Star Wars: SquadronsElectronic Arts
104NHL 21Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

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