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First-Half 2010 Results: Nintendo Dominates Top U.S. Retail Games

Gamasutra examines the top-selling U.S. console games in 2010's first half, as Nintendo titles like New Super Mario Bros. lead individual platforms charts, followed by Red Dead Redemption and God of War III.
[Gamasutra examines the top-selling U.S. console games in 2010's first half, as Nintendo titles like New Super Mario Bros. lead individual platforms charts, followed by Red Dead Redemption and God of War III.] With the final NPD Group retail sales estimates finally in for the first half of 2010, we can now look back to determine the best-selling titles so far this year. Even in a year when software sales are down, both in terms of revenue and unit sales, there have been some very successful software launches. Moreover, software from 2009 continues to make the charts regularly, and at least one title from 2006 is still selling exceptionally well. While the NPD Group continues to release rankings of the top 20 titles for each month, it has recently limited the unit sales figures to only the top five games. However, companies like Nintendo and Microsoft have released sales figures for games on their platforms as part of their monthly press releases in reaction to the data distributed by the NPD Group. It is based on these lists, as well as some estimation on our own part, that the rankings below were created. For our first chart we consider individual games but distinguish between the same game on different platforms. So, for example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 from Activision Blizzard is listed twice -- once for the Xbox 360 version and a second time for the PlayStation 3 version. However, we did combine versions of the same game on the same platform; so the entry for Wii Fit Plus includes both the standalone software version and the bundle that comes with a Wii Balance Board. Below is our listing of these top-selling games, split out by platform. estimated-top-games-1H2010.png The top two titles in this ranking are in fact first-party Wii titles from 2009, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii Fit Plus. Two other first-party Wii titles from previous years also made the list, Wii Sports Resort and Mario Kart Wii, along with two older Nintendo DS titles, New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart DS. Of particular note is the third-party Just Dance, which we estimate has broken over a million units just in 2010 -- despite having launched in November 2009. The lists for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 are similar, with four titles in common: Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Final Fantasy XIII. In only the last case, Final Fantasy XIII, did the PlayStation 3 version sell better than the Xbox 360 version. Sony, however, can be quite pleased with sales of God of War III, which sits right on the line at 1.5 million copies since its March 2010 launch. For its part, Microsoft has to be happy seeing its system with at least seven titles above 500,000 units, more than its primary high-definition competitor. In our second list, we are considering only the games which have sold a million copies in 2010. For our purposes, we have combined versions of the same game on multiple platforms, and also taken the liberty of combining the two Pokemon games for the Nintendo DS. We believe this provides us with a reasonable idea of how well franchises are selling this year. million-sellers-1H2010.png Although Red Dead Redemption is the top-selling console game of the year, we estimate that sales of Nintendo's Pokemon SoulSilver/HeartGold games have reached over 2.7 million copies so far. Sales of RDR currently stand at only 2.5 million. In this view, the newer games are ahead of the 2009 titles, but still several older titles make the list. Three are first-party titles for the Wii (New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Fit Plus, and Wii Sports Resort) while the fourth is Modern Warfare 2, for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As we look forward to the releases in the back half of 2010, we expect at least two key titles to break into this list. First, Microsoft's Halo: Reach should do very well, selling at least two million by the end of the year. Second, Sony's Gran Turismo 5 should provide the PlayStation 3 with another million-selling first-party title. The NPD Group recently released slightly different, and more abbreviated, lists through IGN. Those are official lists, while ours examine the data in a slightly different way and should not be considered canonical -- but the two agree on all of the major points. Finally, please note that the NPD Group data from which these lists were estimated includes only retail sales. There is currently no way to incorporate sales of games sold through services such as Steam, Xbox Live Marketplace, or other online distribution outlets.

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