Many people, myself included, have been predicting that the back end of 2011 is going to be very strong for the video game industry with a release schedule that is the strongest for many years.
I have tried to do a bit more analysis to see if this is true or not by going back over the NPD (US) numbers and releases for last year and comparing it to this year. To do that I've looked at the top 5 titles for last year in each month and compared it to what is going to be happening this year.
I've had to pick what I believe are going to be the strongest titles over the coming months and you may disagree. Firstly, let's get the titles out of the way that were in both last year and this year. The list of notable titles are:
- Just Dance
- Need for Speed
- Assassin's Creed
- Call of Duty
With the exception of NBA2k (because of the players strike) I think most people are forecasting that this year's iterations will sell at least as well as the previous year, probably more. There is also a question of whether COD sales will be cannibalised by Battlefield but with Modern Warfare 3 pre-orders tracking ahead of Black Ops the current evidence is that it won't.
So, looking at that list, I'm going to predict that those titles will sell at least as many this year as last and will probably sell more (although not spectacularly so).
If you then take it month by month I've got titles that made the top 5 for last year (with units where available), the "competing" titles this year and some notes.
|August||Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) – 124.6K||Deus Ex: Human Revolution||In 2010, Madden was released but it won't be released until September this year so August will probably be down year on year because of the timing differences|
|September||Halo Reach (360) - 3.3 million||Gears of War 3||September will include Madden but last year Halo Reach was the big hit. Not sure if Gears of War 3 plus Madden (1st month) will be able to beat Madden (2nd month) plus Halo Reach from last year.|
|Dead Rising 2 (360, PS3, PC) 370k|
|October||Fallout: New Vegas 1,117,000||Battlefield 3||With the release of Battlefield 3 and other strong titles this looks to be the month which will clearly outperform the previous year. Both years had NBA2k (in 2010 it did 1.15m units) and the 2011 iteration may not perform as well but looking at the other releases 2011 looks much stronger.|
|Medal of Honor Over 1 Million||Batman: Arkham City|
|Fable III 580K||Forza 4|
|Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II >315k||Rage|
|November||Fable III MICROSOFT||Uncharted 3||November is the month where Modern Warfare 3 goes up against Black Ops (which was 25% of all units sold in 2010) but looking at the other 2011 titles then as long as Modern Warfare 3 gets near Black Ops numbers then this month also looks far stronger.|
|Legends of Zelda:Skyward sword|
|Elder Scrolls V Skyrim|
|Super Mario Land|
|December||World of Warcraft: Cataclysm 1.5 Million||SWTOR?||Not a lot of releases in December, mainly follow through from previous months but this could be the month were SWTOR, is released.|
|Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) >1.32m||Mario Kart 7|
Looking at that, then I think it is fairly clear that the top titles this year should be stronger than previous year although that won't actually be apparent until October NPD results which will be in early November. From that point on, I expect software sales to show year on year increases although the headlines up until that point may continue to be negative.