Kingdom Hearts 3, Resident Evil 2 dominated post-holiday season as industry sales lag [Report]

While total software and hardware sales dropped across January 2019 compared to January 2018, Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts 3 and Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake both performed remarkably well during January.

The NPD Group's latest report is in, and among January 2019's best-selling games, two games dominated: Capcom’s Resident Evil and Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts. Across all platforms, Kingdom Hearts 3 was January's best-selling game in terms of dollar sales, with Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake landing in second-place.

Both Resident Evil 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3 performed particularly well. Kingdom Hearts 3's launch month dollar sales were 2.5 times greater than March 2006's Kingdom Hearts 2, the Kingdom Hearts series’ prior franchise best, according to analysis obtained by GameDaily.biz from the NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella. Meanwhile, Resident Evil 2 drove "more than 2.8 times higher dollar sales than the launch month of the original Resident Evil 2" in January 1998, Piscatella reports. Both games launched on the exact same date, Jan. 25, suggesting particularly impressive sales numbers for just one week’s worth of launch month sales.

Among January 2019's best-selling titles, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for Nintendo Switch ranked third-place, Activision-Blizzard's Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 scored fourth, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was January's fifth best-selling game. Meanwhile, Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2 was January 2019’s sixth best-selling game, outranking EA’s Battlefield V, which was January’s 14th best-selling title.

While Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 both performed well in January 2019, neither charted on the NPD Group’s list for the games industry’s 10 best-selling releases over the past 12 months. That list features Red Dead Redemption 2 in first place, followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in second, NBA 2K19 ranking third, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in fourth, and Madden NFL 19 at fifth place. In other words, while Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 both performed well during their January launch, neither game scored enough sales to chart among some of 2019’s biggest sustained hits.

January also proved a low point for total video game sales compared to last year. Total video game hardware dollar sales dropped to $199 million in January, down from $278 million in January 2018. Software sales, on the other hand, dropped from $520 million to $427 million. In total, video game sales remained just under one billion, with $893 million spent in January 2019. In comparison, last January saw over $1.1 billion in total video game sales.

However, January 2019's sales numbers aren’t a dire sign for the games industry. Despite the drop, January 2019's spending was "the second highest market total achieved in a January month since the $917 million reached in January 2013," according to Piscatella. Furthermore, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown also set a new franchise record for the series’ launch month sales, with the game's launch earning over 80 percent more sales than October 2007's Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.

Suffice to say, the post-holiday launch season can be a difficult time for major video game publishers, in part because consumers are still shrugging off their holiday spending woes. Yet Kingdom Hearts 3, Resident Evil 2, and Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation all suggest that the January launch window can still prove successful for major publishers when it comes to franchise titles with sustained, ongoing interest. At any rate, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 should be considered major accomplishments for their publishers—and a sign that both franchises still have an eager audience.

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Ana Valens is a games journalist from Brooklyn, New York. Her coverage at GameDaily.biz specializes in player-developer relations, long-term business trends, and gender issues in the gaming industry. Alongside her frequent contributions to GameDaily, her work has appeared at the Daily Dot, Dot Esports, Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and Fanbyte.

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