NBA 2K18 tops sales in absurdly competitive sports gaming month

Posted October 24th, 2017 at 9:00 am

Sales results for September in North America are out via NPD and the sports games made their presence felt as they do every year. In a month with ridiculous competition within the genre NBA 2K18 finished second, Madden NFL 18 right behind it in third, FIFA 18 came in fourth, and NHL 18 was eighth. NBA Live 18 also made an appearance at #17. 

With digital sales and spending factoring in NBA 2K18 had a massive launch which comes as absolutely no surprise. It’s already the top selling sports game of 2017 in the region and it will not be relinquishing that position. After three straight years of winning its opening month, that streak has been broken, but only due to the impressively strong debut of Destiny 2.

The challenge for the NBA 2K franchise will be whether these extraordinary numbers can be sustained next year, coming off the relatively poor consumer word-of-mouth and press coverage of its lowest reviewed entry in the series in a decade. Having far outgrown reasonable expectations already it’s fair to wonder if it has now hit its peak – an eventual inevitability whether it would be through self-inflicted missteps or market saturation. If 2K18 ends up being more frontloaded than past editions that would be reason for concern.

NBA Live 18 seems as though it has turned out to be the stabilizing release that EA Sports desperately needed. That was never going to translate to launch sales even with a reduced $40 price to try and tempt people to give it a chance. Next year’s release will be the one to watch. If ground can’t be made up given what look to be favorable circumstances to do so it will once again be at risk of cancellation.

Without knowing the actual numbers it isn’t possible to determine whether sales for NHL 18 dropped from NHL 17. Its place on the chart however did, going from #4 last year to #8 this year. That may be an indication that the focus on trying to draw in more casual players by emphasizing arcade-style features didn’t resonate strongly with consumers or succeed in doing so.

New releases in September that didn’t make it to the top 20 include the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 and NASCAR Heat 2.

  • Keith.

    NBA 2K18 sold more copies in 2 weeks than Madden sold in a month and a half. And that’s not even counting 2K18’s sales on the Switch. That’s just crazy.

    NBA Live placing 17th isn’t saying much — my guess is 17th place equals somewhere around 20,000 units sold, which would be about the same as what NBA Live did in its first month last year. The only difference is, NPD now reports Top 20 whereas last year they were limited to reporting Top 10.

    • Glen Willett

      Cool.. I don’t really care because I don’t work for 2k or own shares in TT stock. Not really sure why you’re always so excited to announce their sales figures, makes me think your investment goes further than just being a sports gamer.

      Most likely a disgruntled former EA Game Changer based on your obsession with that position and attacks towards all things that come out of that studio.

      All I know is they’ve taken a great game and made it unplayable without buying into their VC model. They could have made the same gameplay improvements without nickel and diming their consumer base,as these numbers dictate been a top selling video game from a pure unit standpoint. But, they still decided to chase every possible nickel consumers had.

      Good for their shareholders… I guess??

    • HipHop1977

      Imagine if 2K still had the NFL License.

  • Wavvy_Crockett

    Is the term “Increased customer spend” including things like VC, MUT/FUT points, and things like the HoF and GOAT editions price markups? The fact just the term “sales” wasn’t used makes me think its more than how many copies of the game go off the shelf.

  • Skopin

    I’m curious as to the number of actual units sold for each game, not including any microtransactions or special edition numbers.

    • Keith.

      I wish we had access to actual sales numbers, too. Music, books, movies — all of those numbers are publicly available, down to the unit/dollar. But with video games, we’re left in the dark for some reason unknown to me. Still not sure how these publicly-traded publishers get away with it, tbh.

      • Jeff

        From my understanding they dont really release how many copies sold because sony and Microsoft dont want each other knowing how many were sold on each console thats what i read

        • Keith.

          From my understanding publishers have full access to all of the tracked actual sales numbers based on their providing their own numbers to NPD, which in turn sells the entire report to investors at a hefty price (I remember reading $80k somewhere but don’t know if that was right) before releasing some free scraps a week or so later to the non-paying public. If my understanding is wrong, hopefully someone will correct me. Otherwise I can’t understand how the industry’s allowed to operate this way.

  • Just a guy

    I guess we can put to bed the theory that people are furious with the implementation of VC or care about reviews in regards to NBA 2k.

    But, we might see the fallout next year in regards to both of those.

    • jake

      We wouldnt see that in its first month sales because people only got angry after they had bought it already and found out what a ripoff it was.

    • Keith.

      Yep, same as we put away the theory that people were furious about microtransactions in 2K13, or with the servers in 2K14-17.

      Pasta keeps writing the inflammatory articles, while the sales just keep on going up, year after year after year.

      • BravesFan24

        The only time I’ve ever really been upset with 2K is when PS3 users began experiencing crashing/freezing in NBA 2K12 that prevented them from even reaching the main menus. It was some weird bug that seemed exclusive to PS3 owners and started in February 2012. 2K released one patch for it that didn’t really work, then didn’t bother with it afterwards. I had to stop playing 2K12 prematurely, which infuriated me and I’m sure many other people as well. I don’t think 2K did nearly enough to resolve that issue.

        But time typically heals things, and 2K has done a much better job supporting their games in the years since, so that’s all been forgiven and largely forgotten.

    • Glen Willett

      How would that have impacted pre-order sales or the majority of month one sales when most people didn’t realize the issue until they had the product?

      2K always puts up a good from about all their added features without mentioning the VC impact, have since they started with it, but this year a line was crossed.

      Keith keeps pointing to Pasta writing these articles but this year Kotaku and Polygon both took TT to task for the VC perversion.

      If Live can put together a workable franchise mode and 2k doesn’t change this model, they will lose market share. Point blank.

  • Kid Fleetfoot

    I don’t have NBA 2K18 for PS4. I’m still trying to learn to play NBA2K16 for PS4.
    I do have NBA2K18 for PS3 and if it were not for the lack of names in rookies and bald headed players, it’s the same as previous years except that the ALL TIME teams make it playable.
    Maybe it’s better to stick to Fantasy Basketball or the real thing.
    I DO like MADDEN 18 for exhibition games and creating players. I haven’t tried Franchise yet and may not.
    NBA LIVE 18 at least made some noise and maybe give NSB2K18 PS4 (and XBOX version) something to think about.

  • BravesFan24

    I don’t agree with forcing micro transactions on people, but it wasn’t nearly a big enough deal to prevent me from buying 2K. It’s still easily the best sports game on the market. I just got 2K18 and am having a lot of fun with it.

    Keith, we need to get a game in one day bro.

    • HipHop1977

      Same what we need to do is help 2K sports get their NFL License Back.

    • Keith.

      Definitely — I’d love to get a game in sometime.

      I’ve got MyPlayer up to an 83 now, if you just picked up the game I think your really going to enjoy what they did with MyCareer this year. A couple of tips I picked up from NBA 2KTV: time in the gym (doing shuttle runs, etc.) helps increase your Turbo in-game, and visiting the dude selling drinks outside the practice gym gets you an extra available drill between games (no actual VC involved).

      The All-Time Teams stuff is also pretty awesome.

      • BravesFan24

        Nice, mine’s up to 72, which isn’t bad for 48 hours (I’ll admit I “cheated” a little by buying a few extra VCs, but it was worth it, lol).

        And yeah, I’m really blown away with what they did to MyCareer this year. I thought last year was impressive, but 2K18 takes nearly everything last year’s career does right and does it 10x better, which is hard to believe. I’ve never seen anything like “The Neighborhood” in a sports game. I’m already curious and excited to see how they’re going to expand on that in next year’s edition.

        The All-Time Teams stuff is cool. Playing a MyLeague with only All-Time or Classic teams is addicting. I’m also looking forward to trying out the new MyGM story when I have time.