Danger. You are at risk of discussing January's U.S. video game sales data without the proper analysis at the ready. Grab a marker and consider scribbling the following cheat-sheet notes on your hand.
Fact: The PlayStation 2 sold fewer than 42,000 copies in January
1) It's over for the old consoles, finally. People have moved on. Down from 333,000 PS2s in December and 200,000 PS2s in November, Sony's Year 2000 console is done with its decade-long cycle because gamers are done with it. PS2, you haven't had a good new game on you since, what, Persona 4? That was more than a year ago.
2) The PS2 is just too expensive. $100 for a PS2? Really? This machine is ancient. Shouldn't it cost $50 by this point?
3) The PS2 is laying low, poised for a comeback as a digitally emulated console on the PS3, but you know, I'm just making that up.
Fact: The DS was the second most popular platform, but no games charted in the top 10. Usually a New Super Mario Bros. shows up in the top 10. Or a Mario & Luigi. Nothing this month.
1) People are buying the DS for the web browser.
2) People are buying the DS for Blu-Ray. (Those people aren't bright.)
3) The DS dominance of New Super Mario Bros. has been splintered by recent months' performance of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, giving new DS owners two big Mario games to choose from (three if you count Mario Kart DS, and you should) to choose from.
Fact: Just Dance is a hit, making for a rare third-party Wii game in the top 10.
1) Just Dance is one of the best game names since Wii Fit, a short, punchy name that tells you what the game's about and sells itself, to those who would be interested in such a thing.
2) Just Dance satisfied the need Dance Dance Revolution usually satisfies, benefiting from being a new brand not laden with a dozen or two spin-offs.
3) Just Dance is a better game than Bayonetta, which didn't chart in the top 10.
Fact: Army of Two charted. Bayonetta didn't.
1) Sex doesn't sell in video games (see BMX XXX), but bromance does.
2) EA does what Sega don't, reviews be damned. Sorry, critically acclaimed Bayonetta.
3) Army of Two: The 40th Day has a good title (my running theme of the month) that, at least up through the first three words, makes more sense than Bayonetta does up through its first word.
Notable new releases that failed to make the overall software top 10 (With no console or handheld version selling more than 171,200 units in the U.S. by January 30): Bayonetta (January 5), Dark Void (January 19), MAG (January 26), Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom Ultimate All-Stars (January 26), No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle (January 26)