Even super-bro Goku struggled to live up to an especially strong January 2019. Image Credit: Bandai Namco

January 2020 NPD: Even Goku can’t rescue game spending


Gaming fans in the United States are over the current generation of consoles. And that has led to another month of significant declines in spending. Even the younger and more vigorous Nintendo Switch was down in terms of hardware spending. January was also light on major releases outside of the month’s top-selling Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Here are the results from industry-tracking firm The NPD Group:

January 2020 Dollar SalesJan’19Jan’20Change
Total Video Game Sales$918m$678m-26%
Video Games Hardware$199m$129m-35%
PC & Video Games Software (PC, Console and Portable; Physical and Full Game Digital Formats from the STEAM, PlayStation and Xbox platforms)$451m$311m-31%
Video Games Accessories & Game Cards$268m$238m-11%

“January 2020 tracked spending across video game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards totaled $678 million,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “[That’s down] 26% when compared to a year ago. Late-cycle hardware dynamics for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as a lighter new release software slate drove the variance.”

The issue is that most people who want a PS4 or Xbox One already have one. And while Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot performed well, it faced a tough comparison. January 2019 had Kingdom Hearts III, Resident Evil 2, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, and ongoing sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Let’s get to the software chart.

January 2020 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 digital sales, and Activision Blizzard does not provide its sales.

These charts are sorted by dollar sales — not number of units sold.

  1. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
  3. Madden NFL 20
  4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  5. Grand Theft Auto V
  6. NBA 2K20
  7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  8. Mario Kart 8*
  9. Ring Fit Adventure
  10. Red Dead Redemption II
  11. Minecraft#
  12. Pokemon Sword*
  13. Luigi’s Mansion 3*
  14. Star Wars: Battlefront II 2017
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  16. Need for Speed: Heat
  17. FIFA 20
  18. Just Dance 2020
  19. Mortal Kombat 11
  20. Pokemon Shield*

* Digital sales not included
^ Steam sales not included
# Minecraft digital sales on Xbox and PlayStation included

“Dollar sales of tracked video game software fell 31 percent in January compared to a year ago, to $311 million,” said Piscatella. “Declines were driven by the new release slate, as the January 2019 comparable month featured both Kingdom Hearts III and Resident Evil 2.”

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot

Goku came out of January a victor, and Kakarot is one of the franchise’s fastest-selling games ever.

“Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was January’s best-selling game,” said Piscatella. “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot launch month sales were there third highest in franchise history, trailing only Dragon Ball: Fighterz and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty, meanwhile, continues to dominate sales.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was the second best-selling title in the month of January and remains the best-selling game over the past 12 months,” said Piscatella.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V is a perennial hit. It will likely continue charting long after human society has faded from the Earth.

“Grand Theft Auto V returned to the top-five best-selling titles for the first time since August 2019,” said Piscatella. “Grand Theft Auto V remains the best-selling video game in U.S. history.”

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo didn’t have any major first-party releases in January, but word-of-mouth is helping Ring Fit Adventure climb the charts.

“Ring Fit Adventure jumped to become the 9th ranked title on the best-sellers chart in January,” said Piscatella. “This is the highest ranked placement for Ring Fit Adventure to date.”

Top 10 games over the last 12 months

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
  2. NBA 2K20
  3. Madden NFL 20
  4. Borderlands 3
  5. Mortal Kombat 11
  6. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  7. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
  8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  9. Grand Theft Auto V
  10. Mario Kart 8*

Top 10 Xbox One games in January 2020

  1. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
  3. Madden NFL 20
  4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  5. NBA 2K20
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Star Wars: Battlefront II 2017
  8. Red Dead Redemption II
  9. Need for Speed: Heat
  10. FIFA 20

Top 10 PS4 games in January 2020

  1. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019
  3. Madden NFL 20
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  6. NBA 2K20
  7. Need for Speed: Heat
  8. Minecraft
  9. FIFA 20
  10. Red Dead Redemption II

Top 10 Nintendo Switch games in January 2020

  1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  2. Mario Kart 8*
  3. Ring Fit Adventure
  4. Pokemon Sword*
  5. Luigi’s Mansion 3*
  6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  7. Pokemon Shield*
  8. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  9. Super Mario Party*
  10. Just Dance 2020