March was a huge month for games according to the NPD Group, the organization that tracks games sales at retail and online. And the news is good for everyone in games. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands ultimately beat out the huge hit that was The Legend of Zelda, but let’s look at the top five best-selling games at retail. This list, obtained via GamesBeat, reflects overall sales across all retail platforms:
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- MLB 17: The Show
Exclusivity isn’t necessarily a bad thing
Both The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn are console-exclusive games, launching on the Switch/Wii U and PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro respectively. While Zelda does have a legendary name to ride on, Breath of the Wild is a huge departure for the series, and the two consoles it attached to are a flagging system in the Wii U and a freshly-launched console in the Switch. For it to rank as highly as it did is indicative of just how many Switch buyers purchased the game with their systems.
Meanwhile, Horizon Zero Dawn is a brand-new property from a developer best known for grimdark science fiction shooters starring a female protagonist. The PlayStation 4 might be the best-selling console right now, but the collected mass of systems that multiplatform games have to stick to is still much bigger than Sony’s platform alone.
That both of those games made it into the top five is great for gamers. Executives love copying success. They don’t always learn the right lessons, but there are a lot of potential lessons for them to take from numbers like these, and they’re all good lessons.
Meanwhile, Wildlands‘ launch is the biggest Ghost Recon launch of all time. That’s hardly surprising considering the shift to an open world, away from the tight tactical shooters of the past, and the fact that it’s an Ubisoft Tom Clancy game. Mass Effect: Andromeda did well despite its buggy launch, and MLB 17: The Show is, of course, launching as the 2017 baseball season is still getting up to full steam.