NPD December: Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Ends 2020 as Best-Selling Game; PS5 Sales Remain Positive

NPC december, call of duty

The last NPD report of 2020 is in, and with it comes news of US video game spending not only in December but a summary of 2020, too. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War ends as both the month and year’s biggest seller, while Sony’s PS5 continues to build on its exceptional start in November.

As is typical, The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella was on hand to break down the results via Twitter, which kicked off with a look at the overall market.

“December 2020 consumer spending across video game hardware, content and accessories reached a December record $7.7B, 25 percent higher when compared to a year ago. Full-year spending also set a new record, totaling $56.9B, 27 percent higher than 2019.”

An infographic offers a clear comparison of the past two years, showing a huge uptick in 2020:

Piscatella then moves onto hardware, which was dominated by an excellent performance Nintendo’s Switch, but also highlights an exceptional early start from Sony’s PS5.

“Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform in units and dollars for both December and the 2020 year. Annual dollar sales of Switch hardware were the 2nd highest for a platform in U.S. history. Only the 2008 dollar sales of Nintendo Wii were higher,” said Piscatella.

While he then highlights that “the PS5 finished 2020 as the #2 best-selling console in dollar sales, while PlayStation 4 ranked 2nd in units sold. PlayStation 5 set a new dollar sales record for PlayStation hardware through each platform’s first December.”

In total, annual hardware dollar sales totaled $5.3 billion, which is 35 percent higher than in 2019, and the most since $5.6 billion was reached in 2011.

Piscatella then breaks down software sales, which were led by Call of Duty both this month and this year.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War was the best-selling game of both December as well as 2020, while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was 2020’s 2nd best-seller. Call of Duty ranked as the best-selling gaming franchise in the U.S. market for a record 12th consecutive year.”

Other notable takeaways include the performance of Cyberpunk 2077, which despite losing sales due to its refund policy (as a result of its launch fiasco) and a lack of digital data still slots in at second place in December. It is 2020’s 19th best-selling game overall.

Meanwhile, The Last of Us: Part II finished 2020 as the year’s 6th best-selling title overall and now ranks as the 3rd best-selling Sony published game in U.S. history in dollar sales, trailing only Marvel’s Spider-Man and 2018’s God of War.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still moving significant numbers of units as it also lands in number six spot for December. It ends 2020 as the third best-selling game overall.

Below you can view the top 20 software sales by year, month, and then by each platform separately:

Finally, Piscatella breaks down spending on accessories, which was 15 percent higher in December 2020 than this time last year at $546m. Overall, spending on accessories in 2020 gained 21 percent, to $2.6 billion.

For to remind yourself of last month’s NPD results it’s here.

About the author

Alex Gibson

Alex was a Senior Editor at Twinfinite and worked on the site between January 2017 and March 2023. He covered the ins and outs of Valorant extensively, and frequently provided expert insight into the esports scene and wider video games industry. He was a self-proclaimed history & meteorological expert, and knew about games too. Playing Games Since: 1991, Favorite Genres: RPG, Action