January 2021 NPD: Nintendo games and holiday hits lead surging sales
February 13, 2021
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The new generation of consoles is fueling growth across all gaming categories in the United States. Hardware saw a 144% year-over-year surge, but software also grew 36%, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.

“January 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content,and accessories reached a January record $4.7 billion,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. “[That’s] 42% higher when compared to a year ago.”

Here are the full NPD results for January 2021:

January 2021 dollar sales, millions Jan 2020 Jan 2021 Change
Total Video Game Sales $3,320 $4,713 42%
Video Game Hardware $131 $319 144%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms) $3,062 $4,172 36%
Video Game Accessories $128 $222 73%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

While January 2021 didn’t have many full new game releases, a crop of late 2020 games continue to sell well. That’s also true for Nintendo’s evergreen releases like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But the launch of new consoles is also encouraging more engagement, which is leading to higher spending on microtransactions as well.

Let’s get to the sale charts.

January 2021 NPD: The top 20 best-selling games of the month in the U.S.

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 sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales.

These charts are sorted by dollar sales — not number of units sold. And this is for full-game sales and does not include in-game spending. 

Rank Last Month Rank January 2021 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 sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
4 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
6 7 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
7 19 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
8 26 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
9 11 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
10 8 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive (Corp)
11 10 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
12 14 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
13 9 Immortals: Fenyx Rising Ubisoft
14 20 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 12 Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
16 17 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
17 31 Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition Microsoft (Corp)
18 2 Cyberpunk 2077* Warner Bros. Interactive
19 18 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 40 UFC 4 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

Hitman 3

One obvious omission in the the top 20 is IO Interactive’s Hitman 3, which launched January 20. IO published the assassination simulator on its own and did not share its digital sales with NPD. That kept the game off the charts — although IO did reveal that the game earned back its budget in its first week.

NPD also doesn’t have digital sales for Cyberpunk 2077, and that game slipped down to No. 18 in its second month. But Hitman 3’s physical sales must’ve come in under that.

Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War

Call of Duty’s success is impressive against other 2020 releases, but Black Ops — Cold War sales are at historical levels, according to Piscatella.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War was January’s best-selling game,” he said. “Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War has been the best-selling game in the U.S. each month since its November launch, and it now ranks as the 20th best-selling video game in U.S. tracked history ranked by lifetime dollar sales.”

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Like Black Ops — Cold War, Valhalla seems like it is riding high on its franchises recent wins. Players loved Odyssey and Origins, and they were ready for another one on next-gen consoles. That’s paying off for Ubisoft.

“Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla was the second best-selling game of January,” said Piscatella. “When comparing each title’s first three months of sales, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is now the 2nd fastest-selling Assassin’s Creed franchise release in U.S. history, trailing only Assassin’s Creed III.”

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Oh, and Animal Crossing is still a sales beast.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons ranked as January’s fifth best-selling title,” said Piscatella. “This is the first time it has ranked among the top 5 best-selling games of the month since ranking fifth in July 2020. Animal Crossing: New Horizons repeated as the month’s best-selling title on Nintendo Switch.”

January 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo platform games

Rank Last Month Rank January 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
2 2 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
3 11 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
4 4 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
5 3 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
6 9 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
7 6 Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
8 10 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
9 7 New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe* Nintendo
10 8 Super Mario Odyssey* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

January 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation platform games

Rank Last Month Rank January 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 2 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
3 4 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
4 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 11 Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition Microsoft (Corp)
6 10 Demon’s Souls Sony (Corp)
7 7 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
8 8 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
9 6 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive (Corp)
10 17 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

January 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox platform games

Xbox Platforms
Rank Last Month Rank January 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 4 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
4 9 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard (Corp)
5 10 Forza Horizon 4 Microsoft (Corp)
6 5 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive (Corp)
7 2 Cyberpunk 2077 Warner Bros. Interactive
8 7 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
9 15 Minecraft: Xbox One Edition Microsoft (Corp)
10 16 UFC 4 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

See you next month!

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