August 2021 NPD: Ghost of Tsushima returns to dominate August game sales

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Gaming fans in the United States spent $4.37 billion on their hobby in August, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That is up 7% year-over-year thanks to ongoing demand for new hardware and a strong month for software. As with results for the last few months, this indicates that the games industry in the U.S. is at least maintaining and even building on its unprecedented gains from the heights of the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders.

August 2021 Dollar Sales, MillionsAug 2020Aug 2021Change
Total Video Game Sales$4,070$4,3707%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$3,680$3,8785%
Video Game Hardware$226$32945%
Video Game Accessories$164$1640%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“August 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories grew 7% when compared to a year ago, reaching an August record $4.4 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Year-to-date consumer spending totaled $37.9 billion, a 13% increase when compared to the same period in 2020.”

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, MillionsYTD 2020YTD 2021Change
Total Video Game Sales$33,490$37,91213%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$30,061$33,32711%
Video Game Hardware$2,009$2,99749%
Video Game Accessories$1,420$1,58812%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

The strong results send a message that consumers still view gaming as a safe bet when it comes to spending their entertainment budget. And that is safe both in terms of getting a good value from the products and safe as in avoiding COVID complications like the Delta variant.

Let’s get to the game charts.

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August 2021 NPD: The top 20 best-selling games of the month in the United States

NPD tracks physical sales at retailers, but it also gets digital data directly from publishers. Not every company participates. For example, Nintendo doesn’t share its first-party sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its Battle.net sales.

RankLast Month RankAugust 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 salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 22Electronic Arts
2110Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
32Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
4NEWHumankindSega
58Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
64Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
71The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword*Nintendo
85MinecraftMultiple Video Game Manufacturers
920Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
107MLB: The Show 21^Sony (Corp)
1110Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
129Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
1311Ratchet & Clank: Rift ApartSony (Corp)
1412Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
1518Pokemon: Sword/Shield*Nintendo
1615Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
1714Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
1817The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
196Mario Golf: Super Rush*Nintendo
2023Super Mario Party*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

One of the key things to note about the sales charts is just how predictable so much of it is. As usual, Nintendo represents nearly half of the top 20 — and that is without including digital sales for any of those games. But it’s also worth noting that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales continues to hang around the top 10.

Sony would certainly love for its games to have the kind of staying power that Nintendo enjoys, and it’s off to a good start with its Spider-Man games. It’s likely hoping it can replicate that success with the newly announced Wolverine game from the Spider-Man developer Insomniac.

Madden NFL 22

Madden’s sales dominance is a near-certainty. And that continued in 2021.

“Madden NFL 22 debuted as the best-selling game of August, while also ranking 4th among the best-selling games of 2021 year to date,” said Piscatella. “This is the 22nd consecutive year that a Madden NFL franchise release was the best-selling title of its launch month.”

Maybe that’s why EA seems uninterested in fundamentally improving the game each year. Madden scored a 68 on review-aggregation site Metacritic.

Ghost of Tsushima

PlayStation 5 owners are hungry for new content. That is evident by the success of Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut.

“Ghost of Tsushima ranked as the second best-selling game of August, after finishing at No. 110 on the best-selling titles chart in July,” said Piscatella. “The launch of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 drove the change.”

Humankind

Sega just re-released Sonic Colors in September, and we’ll see how that performs next month. But for now, Sega as a PC publisher continues to thrive thanks to games like Humankind.

“Humankind ranked first among tracked PC titles in August spending, while placing fourth on the overall best-selling titles chart,” said Piscatella. “Humankind currently ranks as the fifth best-selling tracked PC title of 2021 year-to-date.”

The Last of Us Part II

Turns out that many gamers were waiting for a sale before playing the latest Naughty Dog epic.

“The Last of Us Part II jumped to No. 10 on the PlayStation best-selling titles chart, after ranking 23rd in July. The title was price promoted across several retail outlets in August.”

Top 10 best-selling games so far this year

RankLast Month RankYear-to-Date Ending August 2021 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: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
22MLB: The Show 21^Sony (Corp)
33Resident Evil: VillageCapcom USA
4NEWMadden NFL 22Electronic Arts
54Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
65Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
77Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
86Monster Hunter: RiseCapcom USA
98MinecraftMultiple Video Game Manufacturers
109Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

RankLast Month Rank12 Months Ending August 2021 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: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
23Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
32Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
44Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
55Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
67NBA 2K21*Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
78Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
86Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
99Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
1010FIFA 21Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

August 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Nintendo games in the U.S.

RankLast Month RankAugust 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
13Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
21The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword*Nintendo
35Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
46Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
59Pokémon: Sword/Shield*Nintendo
67Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
78The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
84Mario Golf: Super Rush*Nintendo
910Super Mario Party*Nintendo
1011Minecraft*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

August 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling PlayStation-platform games in the U.S.

RankLast Month RankAugust 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 22Electronic Arts
237Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
32Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
41Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
54Ratchet & Clank: Rift ApartSony (Corp)
63MLB: The Show 21Sony (Corp)
79Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
85MinecraftMicrosoft (Corp)
96Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
1023The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

August 2021 NPD: Top 10 best-selling Xbox-platform games in the U.S.

RankLast Month RankAugust 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWMadden NFL 22Electronic Arts
21Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
34Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
42Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
53Flight Simulator (2020)Microsoft (Corp)
612It Takes TwoElectronic Arts
76Forza Horizon 4Microsoft (Corp)
816Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
98MinecraftMicrosoft (Corp)
107Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

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