2013's Best Sellers
While video game sales totals have been anyone's guess for the past few years, the rankings on the video game industry's sales charts have been fairly predictable.
Megafranchises like "Call of Duty" and "Assassin's Creed" have been at or near the top—with family friendly "Just Dance" not too far behind when the final rankings come in. And the midyear check typically doesn't show a lot of divergence from that pattern.
As the industry prepares to shake up the hardware field, though, there are signs of change in software as well. One of those three franchises is absent from the list of the year's best-selling games at retail outlets. Rankings were taken from sales figures from January through the end of April, the most recent reporting period for NPD Group.
Because of agreements with publishers, NPD does not publicly release hard sales numbers—but the changes in the lineup indicate players are ready for something new—which is certainly music to the ears of console makers and publishers that are preparing to debut fresh franchises in the months to come.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
After slipping to No. 2 in last year's midterm rankings, "Call of Duty" climbs back on top this year. The near-future setting of "Black Ops II" was sufficiently different from past games that even skeptical players returned. Helping matters was Activision's decision to turn the "Call of Duty: Elite" online service into a free offering, which has extended buyer interest in "Black Ops II". And analysts say the game is on track to be the best-selling entry in the 10-year-old franchise's history.
2. Bioshock Infinite
This "true" sequel to the 2007 hit "Bioshock" by the original developers was one of the year's most anticipated titles so it's no surprise to see it this high in the year-to-date rankings. In mid-May, publisher Take-Two announced sales had topped 3.7 million copies. Reviews have been sufficiently strong to ensure the game will be on several "best of" lists this year, which could give it another sales spike in the holiday season.
3. NBA 2K13
Take-Two's premiere sports game has become a franchise on par with EA's Madden NFL series. It consistently ranks high among critics and players—and with EA having abandoned its efforts in the NBA space for the past three years, it has had a chance to build incredible loyalty among players. EA has said it will have an NBA game this year (though it has made—and broken—that promise before). If so, it's going to be hard pressed to win audience back from this series, which this year broke first-week sales records (though Take-Two declined to give specific numbers).
4. Injustice: Gods Among Us
Take the "Mortal Kombat" fighting style and substitute in the heroes and villains of the DC Comic universe and you have a recipe for chaos. Warner Bros. bet big on this fighting game and has seen good returns so far. In just one month, it managed to leapfrog above games that have been out for much longer periods to become one of the year's top sellers to date.
5. Tomb Raider
Because of a series of mediocre—and truly terrible—sequels, the "Tomb Raider" franchise was in danger of losing its triple-A status—but this reboot has made it a force to be reckoned with once again. The game introduced a young, inexperienced and vulnerable Lara—with nary a pair of short shorts in sight. And players saw her grow into a strong female character, whose intelligence and strength weren't overshadowed by her bustline. Publisher Square Enix had unrealistic expectations, but with first month totals of 3.4 million copies, the game's sales were strong enough to make competitors envious.
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