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In what I’m sure is the most shocking news of this month, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was the best-selling game in May, according to industry-tracking firm Circana (formerly known as the NPD Group). It’s also the only new game released in May to make the list, though again that’s probably not a huge surprise to anyone. Video game sales in general — and console game sales in particular — also rose in May compared with the same period last year.
|May 2023 Dollar Sales, Millions||May
|Total Video Game Sales||$3,665||$4,118||12%|
|Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms)||$3,310||$3,622||9%|
|Video Game Hardware||$216||$338||56%|
|Video Game Accessories||$139||$159||14%|
“Spending on video game content grew 9% in May when compared to a year ago, reaching $3.6 billion,” said Mat Piscatella, Circana’s executive producer for games reports. “Console full game and add-on content spending increased 58% when compared to May 2022, offsetting declines across Mobile and PC. New physical video game software spending reached its highest May total since May 2014.”
Last month I noted that a slight slump in sales of April’s games could be due to players saving up for Tears of the Kingdom, as it was a highly-anticipated major release. In retrospect, May sales are not drastically higher than April — it’s likely that the decline in April was therefore due to the then-ongoing effects Elden Ring and LEGO Star Wars were having on sales last year.
|Year-to-Date 2023 Dollar Sales, Millions||YTD End
|Total Video Game Sales||$21,770||$21,826||0%|
|Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms)||$19,096||$18,729||-2%|
|Video Game Hardware||$1,761||$2,160||23%|
|Video Game Accessories||$913||$937||3%|
“PlayStation 5 continues to lead the 2023 hardware market across both units and dollars,” added Piscatella. “Year-to-date content spending has declined 2% when compared to the same period in 2022.” He also added that, while the black PlayStation DualSense controller is the most popular accessory of the year so far, Tears of the Kingdom Series 1 Amiibo Character Pack led accessory unit sales in May.
May 2023 Circana: Top 20 best-selling games in the U.S.
|1||NEW||The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom*||Nintendo|
|2||6||Hogwarts Legacy||Warner Bros. Interactive|
|3||1||Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor||Electronic Arts|
|4||2||Dead Island 2||Plaion|
|5||5||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)||Activision Blizzard (Corp)|
|6||3||MLB: The Show 23^||Multiple Video Game Manufacturers|
|7||9||FIFA 23||Electronic Arts|
|8||10||Mario Kart 8*||Nintendo|
|9||2||Resident Evil 4 (2023)||Capcom USA|
|10||49||Far Cry 6||Ubisoft|
|11||12||Elden Ring||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|12||13||Minecraft||Multiple Video Game Manufacturers|
|13||28||The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*||Nintendo|
|14||23||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*||Nintendo|
|15||19||Madden NFL 23||Electronic Arts|
|16||21||God of War: Ragnarok||Sony (Corp)|
|17||16||New Super Mario Bros.*||Nintendo|
|19||30||LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga||Warner Bros. Interactive|
|20||20||Super Mario 3D World*||Nintendo|
Several of the best-sellers from earlier in the year are still holding strong on the monthly bestseller charts. Jedi: Survivor and Dead Island 2 are maintaining strong spots on the list following their April launches, and Hogwarts Legacy is back up to second place (likely due to its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions launching in May). Sports games continue to chart well, and Resident Evil 4 is holding onto the top 10.
A few games jumped up the best-seller list from further down. This includes Far Cry 6, whose resurgence in popularity and sales is likely due to its Steam launch earlier this month. Similarly, LEGO Star Wars likely got a sales boost thanks to May the 4th, when all things Star Wars go on sale. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, likely jumped up from 28th thanks to fans’ anticipation for Tears of the Kingdom’s launch.
Link thrashes the rest of the May releases
As stated, it’s likely not a shock that a new Legend of Zelda title made it to the top of the list. The game sold 10 million copies within three days of its launch. The franchise’s name recognition, coupled with the positive word-of-mouth and it being the sequel to the popular Breath of the Wild all played a role in its success. It’s worth noting that Circana only includes Nintendo’s physical sales data, as Nintendo doesn’t provide the firm with digital sales information, so the sales figures are likely even higher.
While Tears of the Kingdom was the biggest release in May, it wasn’t the only game that launched that month. Usually at least one other release gets on the best-seller list, even if it drops off by the time the next month comes around. However, Tears of the Kingdom is the only game from May that made it onto Circana’s best-selling list. This means that fellow May releases such as Redfall and The Lord of the Rings: Gollum didn’t even rate curiosity-based spikes in sales, likely due to bad word-of-mouth for both titles.
May 2023 Circana: 20 best-selling games of 2022 so far
|1||1||Hogwarts Legacy||Warner Bros. Interactive|
|2||NEW||The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom*||Nintendo|
|3||2||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)||Activision Blizzard (Corp)|
|4||4||Star Wars Jedi: Survivor||Electronic Arts|
|5||3||Resident Evil 4 (2023)||Capcom USA|
|6||5||MLB: The Show 23^||Multiple Video Game Manufacturers|
|7||6||Dead Island 2||Plaion|
|8||8||FIFA 23||Electronic Arts|
|9||7||Dead Space (2023)||Electronic Arts|
|10||9||Madden NFL 23||Electronic Arts|
|11||10||Elden Ring||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|12||11||The Last of Us: Part 1||Sony (Corp)|
|13||13||Mario Kart 8*||Nintendo|
|14||12||God of War: Ragnarök||Sony (Corp)|
|15||14||Minecraft||Multiple Video Game Manufacturers|
|17||16||Fire Emblem Engage*||Nintendo|
|19||17||Forspoken||Square Enix Inc (Corp)|
|20||20||NBA 2K23*||Take 2 Interactive (Corp)|
Once again, last month’s year-to-date best-sellers haven’t shifted much, except to make room in the No. 2 slot for Tears of the Kingdom. Jedi Survivor maintains a high spot on the list, not shifting down at all. Dead Space, Dead Island 2, Resident Evil 4 and Hogwarts Legacy are still ranking high on the list. As mentioned, Circana doesn’t have Nintendo’s digital sales data to factor into these charts, so it’s likely that Tears of the Kingdom is running even with, or possibly even overtaking Hogwarts Legacy in sales.
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