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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot leads slow January as game sales decline 26%

The gaming industry is off to a slow start in 2020 with barely any new major releases lining shelves this winter. That drought is evident in the NPD Group’s latest game sales report, which shows a 26% decline in physical and digital purchases in January compared to this time last year.

The report says games racked up $678 million in January 2020 across all tracked hardware and software. That’s down significantly compared to January 2019 when players spent $893 million, according to NPD.

Game and DLC sales were down 31% from January 2019, which had releases of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 to bolster numbers. Meanwhile, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was this past January’s only major release, propelling the game to the top of the charts and making it the third-highest launch month in the franchise’s history.

The list contains many of the usual suspects when it comes to high-selling games. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare took the No. 2 spot and remained the bestselling release of the past 12 months. EA heavy-hitters Madden 2020 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order came in at three and four, respectively.

Still, some surprises came up in the rankings, like Grand Theft Auto V, which its reign of dominance as the bestselling game of all time and shows no signs of slowing down. The 2013 game returned to the top five for the first time since August 2019. Ring Fit Adventure jumped to the No. 9 spot, its highest placement to date. Perhaps the classic New Year’s fitness resolutions helped propel sales for Nintendo’s fitness game.

But it’s not just the games that caused a dip in January’s numbers. NPD attributed a good portion of the decline to the late stage of this generation’s lifecycle as Sony and Microsoft gear up to release new consoles later this year.

On the hardware side, console sales were down 35% compared to last January, with systems raking in $129 million. Nintendo Switch was the month’s bestselling platform, with seven of the publisher’s games appearing in the software chart’s top 20.

Accessories fared slightly better with only an 11% dip, totaling $238 million. Those sales were led by Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2, which came out late last year. The wireless controller was the most bought gaming accessory for the third consecutive month and already the fifth fastest-selling in U.S. history.

While the charts may not look much better in February, but the tide should change in March when Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Half-Life: Alyx all launch near the end of the month.

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