'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' Tops October Best-Sellers List in U.S.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Activision

Meanwhile, Obsidian Entertainment's new role-playing game 'The Outer Worlds' surprised in the No. 2 slot, while Nintendo's 'Luigi's Mansion 3' came in third.

Video game spending across hardware, software and accessories totaled just over $1 billion in the U.S. last month, reports Nielsen's NPD Group. That figure is the second-highest mark for the month of October this decade, failing only to beat last year's $1.6 billion over the same period. Overall U.S. game sales year-to-date in 2019 are down from $10.4 billion in 2018 to $9.3 billion.

Despite the near-record spending, software sales were down 37 percent year-over-year to $620 million, due in large part to the smaller number of new AAA releases last month compared to 2018. Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare debuted as the best-selling game of the month, the 12th consecutive year in which a title from the shooter franchise debuted atop the best-sellers list in its launch month. The game is now the best-selling title of 2019. The series itself is also the best-selling franchise of all time in the U.S. by total dollar sales.

Developer Obsidian Entertainment and publisher Private Division's role-playing game The Outer Worlds was the month's second-best-selling title. Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Private Division's parent Take-Two Interactive, said in an earnings call last week that the game "exceeded expectations" in its launch, though he did not share specifics of how many units the title sold.

The month's other major AAA release, Nintendo's Luigi's Mansion 3, also had a strong opening, landing in the No. 3 spot on the overall best-sellers list in October (impressive considering it launched on Oct. 31) and setting a new sales record for the family-friendly ghostbusting franchise. 

Software sales overall year-to-date in 2019 are down seven percent from 2018 to $4.5 billion.

On the hardware side, sales continue to plummet. Hardware spending in October fell 41 percent year-over-year to $182 million last month, while overall spending in the category is down 23 percent year-to-date to $2.1 billion (as compared to $2.7 billion at this point in 2018). The decline is largely due to the late life cycle of two of the main three consoles currently on the market — Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — both of which launched in 2013. As such, Nintendo's Switch is the only platform to post sales gains both in October and year-to-date in 2019 over last year.