Don't Be Misled, Game Sales Actually Softened in January

Last month the NPD Group reported that Call of Duty: Black Ops II led slumping game sales in the U.S., noting that the video game industry as a whole declined 22 percent in December. Fast forward to today and NPD Group is now reporting a 9 percent increase in game sales in January, but that's only because January benefited from an extra week of accounting.

NPD Group follows the National Retail Federation's calendar, which adds an extra week of sales every five to six years. This happened to be that year, so January's figures ended up inflated by tallying a five-week period instead of four weeks.

In any event, gamers spent $834.7 million on game-related hardware, software, and accessories in January, which is up 9 percent from the same period one year ago. Take away that extra week, however, and game sales actually declined.

Black Ops II

"Overall retail video game sales -- hardware, software, and accessories -- would be down 13 percent, instead of up 9 percent, if sales were normalized to account for the five-week January," NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan said in  statement.

Software took the biggest hit, declining 19 percent from January of last year. Interestingly, Far Cry 3 ranked second highest in terms of unit sales, only the second time since January 2002 that a December launch (Final Fantasy X) ranked second the following January, Callahan said.

As for the best selling games from January, the list isn't terribly unchanged from last month. It looks likes this:
  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
  2. Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  3. Just Dance 4 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii)
  4. NBA 2K13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, PSP, PC)
  5. Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Vita, Wii)
  6. DmC: Devil May Cry (Xbox 360, PS3)
  7. Halo 4 (Xbox 360)
  8. Assassin’s Creed III (Xbox 360, Ps3, Wii U, PC)
  9. Skylanders: Giants (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, Wii)
  10. FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Vita, 3DS, PSP, Wii)