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Video games sales continue to grow as the pandemic drags on, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. The March 2021 NPD game report is the first time that a year-over-year comparison will take early stay-at-home orders into affect.

“March 2021 consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached a March record $5.6 billion,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.”[That is] 18% higher when compared to a year ago.”

Total Video Game Sales$4,762$5,60818%
Video Game Hardware$463$68047%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$4,062$4,62814%
Video Game Accessories$238$30026%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

And through the first three months of 2021, the industry is tracking well ahead of 2020.

“First quarter consumer spending totaled $14.9 billion, 30% higher than 2020’s first quarter,” said Piscatella.

That makes sense considering the pandemic, which boosted spending on video games, didn’t get started in earnest until late March. This year also has new hardware from Sony and Microsoft.

Year-to-Date 2021 Dollar Sales, MillionsYTD 2020YTD 2021Change
Total Video Game Sales$11,480$14,92030%
Video Game Hardware$778$1,40581%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR) platforms)$10,199$12,79825%
Video Game Accessories$504$71742%
* Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

Let’s get to the software charts.

March 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. 

RankLast Month RankMarch 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
12Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
2NEWMonster Hunter: RiseCapcom USA
3NEWOutridersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
41Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
54Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
69Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
77Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
810Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
916Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
108MinecraftMultiple Video Game Manufacturers
1111Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
1214Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
1319Pokemon: Sword/Shield*Nintendo
1415Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
1565Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About TimeActivision Blizzard (Corp)
1620The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
175Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
1813NBA 2K21*Take-Two Interactive
1922Super Mario Party*Nintendo
2012FIFA 21Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

When it comes to software, Switch is still one of the biggest stories. Nintendo published seven of the top 20 highest-selling games in March. But Monster Hunter: Rise is a Switch exclusive, and Crash Bandicoot 4 is back in the top 20 thanks to its Switch version.

While PlayStation 5 and Xbox are building up an audience, Nintendo is cashing in on a very successful generation.

Let’s see what Piscatella has to say about the games.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty maintained its evergreen status in March.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War returned to the top of the monthly best-sellers chart in March,” said Piscatella. “Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War was also the best-selling title of both the first quarter as well as the 12-month period ending March.”

Monster Hunter: Rise

In terms of new games, Monster Hunter: Rise was the big one for the month. It outsold everything except for Call of Duty.

“Monster Hunter: Rise debuted as March’s second best-seller, while also ranking first on Switch,” said Piscatella. “With just one month on the market, lifetime dollar sales of Monster Hunter: Rise rank second among all Monster Hunter franchise releases, trailing only Monster Hunter: World.”

Outriders

Despite also launching at no extra cost for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on Xbox, the online cooperative shooter Outriders also had a strong debut.

“Outriders launched as the third best-selling game of March,” said Piscatella. “Outriders ranked as the No. 3 best-selling game on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms.”

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, meanwhile, is the Call of Duty of mascot racers.

“Mario Kart 8 placed sixth on the March 2021 best-sellers chart,” said Piscatella. “Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling racing-genre video game in U.S. history.”

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Activision didn’t only have Call of Duty in the top 20. Crash found his way back into the top 20 thanks to the Switch.

“The March launch of the Switch version of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time helped the title rise to No. 15 on the March best-sellers chart after placing 65th in February,” said Piscatella.

Top 20 best-selling games of 2021 so far

RankYear-to-Date Ending March 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)
22Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
33Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
4NEWMonster Hunter: RiseCapcom USA
54Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
67Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
76MinecraftMultiple Video Game Manufacturers
85Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
98Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
10NEWOutridersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
* Digital sales not included

Top 10 best-selling games of the last 12 months

RankLast Month Rank12 Months Ending March 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)
24Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
32Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
45Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
56Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
63Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
77The Last of Us: Part IISony (Corp)
88Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
99Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
1010Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

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

RankLast Month RankMarch 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
1NEWMonster Hunter: RiseCapcom USA
21Super Mario 3D World*Nintendo
32Mario Kart 8*Nintendo
43Animal Crossing: New Horizons*Nintendo
55Super Mario 3D All-Stars*Nintendo
64Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*Nintendo
77Pokemon: Sword/Shield*Nintendo
88The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*Nintendo
910Super Mario Party*Nintendo
1016Luigi’s Mansion 3*Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

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

RankLast Month RankMarch 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
11Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
22Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesSony (Corp)
3NEWOutridersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
45Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
54Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
69Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
76MinecraftMicrosoft (Corp)
811Ghost of TsushimaSony (Corp)
97NBA 2K21*Take-Two Interactive
1012Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
* Digital sales not included

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

RankLast Month RankMarch 2021 Top 10 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar salesPublisher
11Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold WarActivision Blizzard (Corp)
23Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaUbisoft
3NEWOutridersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
44Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)Activision Blizzard (Corp)
59Mortal Kombat 11Warner Bros. Interactive
62Madden NFL 21Electronic Arts
76Forza Horizon 4Microsoft (Corp)
8NEWIt Takes TwoElectronic Arts
916Marvel’s AvengersSquare Enix Inc (Corp)
1022Watch Dogs: LegionUbisoft
* Digital sales not included

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