May 23, 2024
Hogwarts Legacy comes out on top in 2023 | Circana December 2023



The numbers are in, and Hogwarts Legacy is the best-selling game of 2023, according to industry-tracking firm Circana. While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was a top-selling in both November and December, it couldn’t lap Hogwarts Legacy’s nine-month lead on it, as the Wizarding World title holds the top spot on Circana’s year-long list. For the month of December, video game sales remained mostly even, with a slight, 4% increase in total sales — though accessories saw a relatively large leap of 14%

December 2023 Dollar Sales, Millions Dec
2022
Dec
2023
Change
Total Video Game Sales $7,629 $7,906 4%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms) $5,574 $5,725 3%
Video Game Hardware $1,543 $1,598 4%
Video Game Accessories $512 $584 14%
*Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“December hardware spending reached $1.6 billion, an increase of 4% when compared to December 2022,” said Mat Piscatella, Circana’s executive producer for games reports. “Growth in Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 hardware dollar sales offset a double-digit percentage decline for Nintendo Switch.”

This puts an end to the relatively steady declining hardware sales that have caused negative percentages for the last few months: Sales were down 24% year-over-year in November and 23% in October. Accessory sales have remained relatively steady through this time either dropping a small percentage or rising by the same amount year-over-year.

2023 Total Dollar Sales, Millions 2022
Year
2023
Year
Change
Total Video Game Sales $56,624 $57,189 1%
Video Game Content (Physical & Digital Full Game, DLC/MTX and Subscription consumer spending across Console, Cloud, Mobile*, Portable, PC and VR platforms) $47,487 $47,965 1%
Video Game Hardware $6,599 $6,587 0%
Video Game Accessories $2,538 $2,638 4%
*Mobile spending provided by Sensor Tower

“21% growth in December sales of Gamepads was the primary reason for the increase. December Headset/Headphone spending grew by 5% year-on-year,” Piscatella added. “Accessories spending finished the year 4% higher than a year ago, at $2.6 billion. A 7% increase in sales of Gamepads drove the growth. The PS5 Dual Sense Edge was the best-selling gamepad of 2023 in dollar sales.”

Circana December 2023: Top 20 best-selling games in the U.S

Rank Last
Month’s
Rank
Title Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 5 Super Mario Bros. Wonder* Nintendo
3 4 Madden NFL 24 Electronic Arts
4 3 Hogwarts Legacy Warner Bros. Games
5 2 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Sony (Corp)
6 NEW Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Ubisoft
7 6 EA Sports FC 24 Electronic Arts
8 8 Mortal Kombat 1 Warner Bros. Games
9 9 NBA 2K24* Take 2 Interactive (Corp)
10 21 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
11 7 Super Mario RPG (2023)* Nintendo
12 13 Sonic Superstars Sega
13 19 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
14 15 God of War: Ragnarok Sony (Corp)
15 14 Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor Electronic Arts
16 41 Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
17 33 The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom* Nintendo
18 20 Just Dance 2024 Edition Ubisoft
19 11 Assassin’s Creed: Mirage Ubisoft
20 10 UFC 5 Electronic Arts
*Digital sales not included.

The alignment of games in the December charts aren’t a huge surprise, especially with Modern Warfare 3 staying at the top of the charts (as is usual for Call of Duty titles). There weren’t as many new games released in December to shake up the charts, so most of the best-sellers from November have stayed on the charts, with the exception of some of its new titles, like Star Ocean: The Second Story R, dropping off entirely.

The only new game to make it onto the charts is Ubisoft’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. For contrast, three new games made it onto the December 2022 best-sellers list. This could be buyer fatigue following the deluge of new games in both October and November. Avatar’s placement on the list is likely due to it being a high-profile licensed IP and some consumer faith in Ubisoft.

Elden Ring and Tears of the Kingdom return to the charts

The only other unusual feature of this December chart is the reignited sales of a few games that had dropped off the charts in November. The return of Mario Kart 8 is probably not a surprise — the game is a staple of the sales charts and only bumped off of it one place last month. The other two returns are Tears of the Kingdom and Elden Ring, which jump back up the list from 33rd and 41st place in November, respectively.

Elden Ring’s return could be down to holiday sales, as it was sold for a discount during Steam’s Winter Sales. It’s also possible that rumors about the release of its upcoming DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, could have fueled a resurgence. Similarly, Tears of the Kingdom may have gotten a holiday sales boost. Circana’s data on Nintendo titles is restricted to its physical sales, so it’s possible consumers were buying physical copies in anticipation of holiday gift-giving.

Circana 2023: Best-selling games of the year

Rank Last
Month
Rank
Title Publisher
1 1 Hogwarts Legacy Warner Bros. Games
2 2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 5 Madden NFL 24 [EA Sports] Electronic Arts
4 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Sony (Corp)
5 3 The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom* Nintendo
6 6 Diablo IV Activision Blizzard (Corp)
7 7 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
8 9 Mortal Kombat 1 Warner Bros. Games
9 8 Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor Electronic Arts
10 12 EA Sports FC 24 Electronic Arts
11 10 Starfield Microsoft (Corp)
12 15 Super Mario Bros. Wonder* Nintendo
13 11 Resident Evil 4 (2023) Capcom USA
14 13 MLB: The Show 23^ Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
15 14 Dead Island 2 Plaion
16 16 Final Fantasy XVI Square Enix Inc (Corp)
17 17 Street Fighter 6 Capcom USA
18 19 Elden Ring Bandai Namco Entertainment
19 23 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
20 25 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
*Digital sales not included. ^Xbox & Switch digital sales not included.

Hogwarts Legacy came out the ultimate winner in Circana’s end-of-year sales list, beating out Call of Duty, which has traditionally taken the top spot. Piscatella said in an interview that if Hogwarts Legacy did beat Modern Warfare 3, it would be the first time a game other than a Call of Duty title had taken the top spot since 2008 (where Rockband topped the charts).

While this outcome speaks well of the strength of Hogwarts Legacy’s IP, it’s also possible this relative dip in sales for Call of Duty is because Modern Warfare 3 is not selling as well. Modern Warfare 3 received very poor reviews for its single-player campaign, and the title appears to be weaker than 2022’s Modern Warfare 2. According to Circana’s other charts, Hogwarts Legacy is the best-selling game on PlayStation for the year, while it’s second on Xbox (Modern Warfare 3 tops the Xbox chart).

One factor that changes the actual final sales figures is that not every game studio reports numbers to Circana. Larian Studios is one such example, which is why Baldur’s Gate 3 is not on this chart despite selling like gangbusters on Steam alone. But Hogwarts Legacy and Modern Warfare 3’s placement on the list is likely reflective of overall sales — Hogwarts Legacy has remained near the top of the charts since it launched in February, and Call of Duty titles historically chart well despite releasing so late in the year.

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