Xbox Accounted for 40 Percent of All Videogame Sales in 2011

Microsoft dominated the videogame industry last year, with the Xbox capturing nearly half of all consumer spending from physical sales in 2011.

According to NPD data released today, about $6.7 billion, or 40 percent of consumer retail spending, was spent on the Xbox, breaking down into two categories: $2.1 billion on consoles and $4.6 billion on games.

The figures take into account U.S. retail sales of new physical videogame content, including portable and console hardware, games and accessories.

In all, those sectors generated revenue of $17.02 billion in 2011, an 8 percent decline over the $18.6 billion generated last year. (Yes, I repeat, Microsoft got 40 percent of that in 2011.)

The initial report does not take into account sales from digital formats such as downloadable content on the console, social and mobile games, or other categories, including used and rentals.

Those so-called “newer” categories generated $7.24 billion in revenues last year, an increase of 7 percent over the prior year.

The increase in spending on alternative formats, however, wasn’t enough to offset declines in physical retail. All told, consumer spending across both categories totaled between $16.3 billion and $16.6 billion, falling 2 percent over last year.

Separating physical and digital sales is quickly becoming an outdated concept, since the two are so intertwined. Consumers have the choice of purchasing many of the games over the Internet via a digital download versus buying them at Wal-Mart or Target.

NPD acknowledged today that it needs “deeper visibility” into digital distribution to get a complete picture of the industry, which will be its focus in 2012.

Still, the report can still be used as a litmus test to see what is performing well.

Overall, a surprisingly disappointing December is what dragged down results for the whole year, NPD discovered.

“Because of the great slate of content that came to market during the fourth quarter, I had expected December sales to represent a larger portion of total year sales than what occurred,” said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier, in a release.

Frazier added that December sales accounted for just 23 percent of the annual total, compared to the past 10 years, when December, on average, represented 28 percent of the total.

In addition to Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation also performed well, with both witnessing a 5 percent increase across all game categories for 2011. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Wii, which cannot display HD content, saw a decline year over year.

In a separate statement, Microsoft said that it outsold the PlayStation, the second-place console, by 2.7 million units, and that in all, it has now sold 66 million Xboxes and 18 million Kinect accessories. On a global basis, Sony said in a statement that it sold more than 6.5 million units worldwide this holiday season.

Here are the Top 10 best-selling games in December, according to NPD:

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by Activision Blizzard
  2. Just Dance 3 by Ubisoft
  3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda Softworks
  4. Mario Kart 7 for 3DS by Nintendo
  5. Battlefield 3 by Electronic Arts
  6. Madden NFL by Electronic Arts
  7. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations by Ubisoft
  8. NBA 2k12 by Take Two Interactive
  9. Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS by Nintendo
  10. Batman: Arkham City by Warner Bros. Interactive

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