Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom partly responsible for 40% drop in US hardware sales this year

Spending on video game hardware in the US fell 40 percent in May compared to 2023, according to figures from data firm Circana.

According to Mat Piscatella, the company’s president and industry analyst, sales of the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S all showed “double-digit percentage declines year-over-year” compared to their numbers through May. “Switch saw the largest decline.”

PlayStation 5 was the best-selling console in unit and dollar sales in May, with the console’s unit sales ahead of PlayStation 4 by eight percent.

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The decline wasn’t just for hardware sales. Spending on gaming “content” — that is, games and in-game currency and items — also fell 3 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, spending on gaming accessories also fell 8 percent from a year ago. PlayStation Portal was the top-selling accessory in May.

Ghost of Tsushima was the best-selling game in the US in May. Previously a PlayStation console exclusive, the PC port launched and quickly became PlayStation’s biggest single-player PC launch in terms of concurrent players.

Fortnite has maintained its popularity, with the free-to-play game boasting the highest number of active users on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in May. A recent study highlighted the prevalence of free-to-play games and their longevity, with these new sales figures proving their continued popularity above new full releases.

“Expected total U.S. spending on video game hardware, content and accessories declined six percent in May 2024 compared to a year ago,” Piscatella said.

According to Piscatella, this relative year-on-year decline can be attributed—at least in part—to last year’s release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, due for release on Nintendo Switch in May 2023. Upon launch, Tears of the Kingdom sold more than 10 million copies worldwide in just three days, making it the fastest-selling Zelda release to date.

Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are all set to launch new hardware in the near future.

Last month, Microsoft unveiled three new Xbox console variants with larger storage capacities, which will be available in select markets later this year. Sony is also reportedly planning a PS5 “Pro” console, which will run games at 60fps with ray tracing.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has said it will announce the Switch’s successor — dubbed Switch 2 — later this fiscal year, before March 31, 2025. It’s expected to actually launch sometime in 2025.

There are several more bigger video games planned for each platform this year, including Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom coming to Switch in September, Astro Bot also coming to PS5 in September, and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle coming to Xbox and PC in 2024.

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