October was always expected to be one of the most contentious months of the year for video game sales. While many publishers simply got out of the way of Red Dead Redemption II, Rockstar’s first game since the mammoth Grand Theft Auto V broke every sales record, the month was still fairly packed. This month’s report from the National Purchase Diary, or NPD, paints a picture of a pretty booming game industry even separate from its biggest players.
In terms of software, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 rules the roost, edging out Take Two and Rockstar’s old west adventure, though it isn’t clear by how much. Before the oddsmakers take too much of a beating, however, it is important to note that Black Ops released on October 12 while Red Dead Redemption II released on October 26. This gave Black Ops 4 two more weeks of sales to count and positioned Red Dead Redemption much closer to the cutoff date for sales. It seems likely that a significant percentage of Red Dead Redemption II’s sales will show up in the November NPD.
However, this takes nothing away from Call of Duty, which instantly rocketed to the top selling game of the year just solely based on its October performance. It seems, then, that Activision now has hard data to point to whenever anyone asks if Call of Duty games need a single-player campaign.
Soulcalibur VI also appeared in the top ten this time, a solid debut for a fighting series that was explicitly on the bubble, with Bandai Namco suggesting the series might be over if the sixth entry failed to sell. Surprisingly, My Hero One’s Justice, a 3D arena fighter using the My Hero Academia license, also found its way to the 13th spot, a good result for Bandai Namco who has traditionally found success with anime fighters in the west.
Diablo III debuted at spot 18, though the first Blizzard game on Switch released two days before the tracking period ended. It also does not count digital sales on Switch, but does count them on Sony and Microsoft consoles in the same listing. Super Mario Party also moved up from the 9th place rankings in September to a comfortable 5th place here, making it the only Switch exclusive in the top ten.
You can see the entire top 20 software chart below.
|Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII||1|
|Red Dead Redemption II||2|
|Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey||3|
|Super Mario Party||5|
|Madden NFL 19||9|
|Forza Horizon 4||11|
|Lego DC Super Villains||12|
|My Hero One’s Justice||13|
|Shadow Of The Tomb Raider||14|
|Mario Kart 8||15|
|Grand Theft Auto V||16|
|Super Mario Odyssey||17|
|The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild||19|
One notable software omission is Starlink, Ubisoft’s Toys-to-Life game released on all platforms but with Star Fox content on the Switch. While it ended up in the back half of the Switch-exclusive top ten, it seemingly underperformed elsewhere, and is a surprisingly rare miss for Ubisoft’s library this year. Dark Souls Remastered also released on Switch, months after other versions, and failed to make much of a dent in the larger chart.
The PlayStation 4 walked away with the hardware title this month, setting the record for the best October for the brand since the PlayStation 2 in 2002. The combination of Red Dead Redemption II, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Spider-Man likely rocketed the PS4 to new heights this month. In the case of the first two games, at least, October makes a strong argument that marketing deals for third party games are a wise investment and do in fact sell consoles.
Despite the horse race that most of us, and this post, definitely focus on, it was overall a stunningly good month for video game sales in the U.S. Similar to the PS4’s accolades, this is the best October for the industry since the NPD began tracking in 1995, hitting $1.55 billion in total revenue. The previous best October was in 2008, hitting $1.33 billion.
Next month’s NPD will include more days for Red Dead Redemption II, Fallout 76, Pokemon Let’s Go, and a lot more.