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

Video game hardware spending in the US was down 40 percent in May compared to 2023, numbers company Circana reports.

Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S sales all saw “double-digit percentage declines year-on-year” comparing figures up to May, “with Switch showing the most significant drop”, according to the company’s boss and industry analyst Mat Piscatella.

PlayStation 5 was the top selling console in units and dollar sales in May. The console’s unit sales lead those of PlayStation 4 by eight percent.

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The decline wasn’t just for hardware sales. Spending on game “content” – ie. games and in-game currency and items – also fell three percent compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, spending on gaming accessories also dropped eight percent compared to last year. PlayStation Portal was the best selling accessory in May.

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Ghost of Tsushima was the best selling game in the US for May. Previously a PlayStation console exclusive, its 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 across PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in May. A recent study highlighted the prevalence of free-to-play games and their sustainability, with these new sales figures proving their continued popularity above new full releases.

“Projected US total spending on video game hardware, content and accessories fell six percent in May 2024 when compared to a year ago,” Piscatella said.

According to Piscatella, this yearly decline can be attributed – at least in part – to last year’s arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, released on Nintendo Switch in May 2023.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are all set to launch new hardware in the not too distant future.

Last month, Microsoft revealed three new Xbox console variants with increased storage capacity, which will be available at the end of the year in select markets. Sony is also reportedly planning to release 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 2later this financial year, before March 31st 2025. It’s expected to be actually released at some point in 2025.

Each platform has a number of bigger video game releases still to come this year, as well, with the likes of Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom arriving on Switch this September, Astro Bot coming to PS5 also in September and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle slated for a 2024 debut on Xbox and PC.

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