November game sales surge, hardware sales dip

Led by “Modern Warfare 3” and a surprisingly strong “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,” video game software sales soared past analyst expectations in November. Skyrim

Retail sales of console and portable software were up 15 percent to $1.67 billion. Analysts had expected a climb of just 3 percent.

While the success of “Modern Warfare 3” was telegraphed (the game is currently tracking about 7 percent ahead of last year’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops”), it’s Skyrim’s success that has turned heads. The game beat out EA’s much-hyped “Battlefield 3” for the #2 sales spot and is on track to being one of Bethesda’s best selling titles.

“In one month, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is just about half a million units shy of matching Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in lifetime sales,” said NPD analyst Anita Frasier. “Its first month performance was a five-fold increase over Oblivion’s first month sales. The game garnered outstanding review scores.”

As a whole, the industry fared a bit worse, reporting numbers that matched November 2011. That’s due to the fact that Kinect for Xbox 360 launched a year ago, which skewed the comparions. Console hardware sales were down 9 percent as well – but Microsoft continued to dominate the field.

“This is the fourth consecutive month in which the Xbox 360 has been the top selling hardware system,” said Frasier. “The gap between 360 sales and sales of the next best selling platform was the largest we’ve seen since December 2008 when the Nintendo DS was the top selling system.”

The full list of the month’s top selling games can be found after the break.