"Overall industry results are not entirely surprising given that we are on the back end of the current console lifecycle, combined with the continued digital evolution of gaming," said Anita Frazier, an analyst with The NPD Group. "Core gamers continue to be engaged and spend on established franchises across both the digital and physical format using multiple devices for different gaming occasions."
A smooth $2.04 billion of that $3.99 billion total was caused entirely by new physical software sales, a dash for the cash that continues to be lead by Modern Warfare 3. The pseudo-medieval allure of November's second place podium finisher, Skyrim, was not enough to keep its throne for a second term; the Dovahkiin has been usurped by Ubisoft's compulsory neon-dancing simulator, Just Dance 3.
Comparatively, Skyrim got off easy: Uncharted 3, Saints Row: The Third and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, are all absent from December's Top-10 list, just weeks after their respective releases. Skyward Sword wasn't Nintendo's only horse in this race, however, as Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land closed out December in fourth and ninth place, respectively. Overall, Nintendo, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts claimed more Top-10 real estate than their competitors, each publishing two of the month's best selling titles.