2006 saw the XBox 360 kick into full gear and the launch of two new platforms: the Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3. Of course, for any platform to be successful, it has to have software to support it. The NPD Group, a marketing and retail statistics firm, releases monthly sales numbers to show who’s doing what, and the latest batch shows what the most popular software items were for 2006. Some of them are a little surprising.
All numbers on this chart are for units sold in the United States, and include all platforms – television and handheld.
December 2006 Sales
Are you ready for some football? Electronic Arts has a stranglehold on sports gaming. If it’s not FIFA 07 in Europe it’s Madden NFL 07 here in the States… twice. Madden comes in at numbers 1 and 8, for the PS2 and XBox 360 respectively. It pays to be the only game in town. Not only does Madden show up twice, but another EA football game does as well: NCAA Football 07 for the PS2.
Mario – still popular after all these years. The Nintendo DS Mario game, known as New Super Mario Bros., is selling like hotcakes. Since its release in May, it has sold 2 million units. It even showed up in the top 10 sales for December.
Gears of War, Microsoft’s latest killer app. Whenever footage of upcoming XBox titles was shown, Gears of War was prominently featured. It’s one of the nicest looking and most interestingly designed games to date, and because of that, it’s also one of the best selling games of this year. In fact, there are plenty of people who bought 360s so that they could play this game. Could Gears of War eventually come close to challenging Halo for the title? Who can really say, but I’d love to encourage Epic to try.
PS3 to Guitar Hero II: GET OFF MY LAWN! It kind of makes you wonder why you’d go through all the trouble of including a PS2 chip in the PS3 for backwards compatibility and then completely negate one of the best-selling games of the year by not utilizing its special controller. Though backwards compatibility might not be that big of a deal to some people, it’s everything to others. I’ve talked to more than one person who decided to hold off on a PS3 purchase because they couldn’t play Guitar Hero on it. You’d think that if Sony can make an accessory to import your saved games, they could make one that would allow for use of their own licensed controllers. Hey, if they did that, they wouldn’t have as many people to alienate. We can’t have that.
Get Smart, Stupid. One of the more interesting phenomenon to erupt from the Nintendo DS is brain training. There are a few different games out there that keep your wits sharp and provide a few casual games to entertain on the go, but the title of brain gaming king goes to Brain Age: Train Your Brain. With that many copies floating around, maybe the amount of people suing over spilled coffee in their laps will decrease.
Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii both absent. Not that this is that much of a surprise since the launch was so close to the end of the year, but both new consoles didn’t have a showing in the top 10. The Wii probably came the closest with Twilight Princess, but without combining the sales with the GameCube pre-orders, it fell short of the million mark. On the other hand, the lowest seller on the 2006 top 10 sold 1 million units, which means that almost every person who purchased 1 of the 687,300 PS3s sold would need to buy 2 copies of Resistance: Fall of Man to make it on the list. I, sadly, only bought one copy. I won’t let you down next time, Sony.
2006 was a great year for gaming, and 2007 should be better as we reach new levels of mature software for all three major platforms, as well as new games reaching the online world.