Weathering With You Is A Good, But Flawed Follow Up To Your Name

Screenshot: All images 東宝

When originally released in 2016, the acclaimed Your Name became the highest-grossing anime in Japan ever. Today, its follow-up, Weathering With You, was released in Japan. The movie shares many thematic and stylistic themes with Your Name. The result is good but flawed.

Warning: This review includes some light spoilers.

Weathering With You tells the story of a Japanese high school student named Hodaka who flees the tiny island he calls home for Tokyo, where it never seems to stop raining. There, he struggles to find work and ultimately ends up getting a gig at an occult magazine, where he’s tasked with tracking down a rumored hare-onna (晴れ女) or “clear-weather woman,” who is said to be able to control the skies. Hodaka befriends a girl named Hina, whom he learns is this rumored hare-onna.

(In Japanese, there is a term called ame-otoko (雨男) or “rain man,” and it means that wherever an ame-otoko goes, rain follows. While the movie doesn’t explicitly state this, Hodaka is an ame-otoko. Thematically, the character serves as a contrast with Hina. This isn’t really explored fully, but makes for a fascinating subtext.)

The Your Name comparisons are inevitable. This movie isn’t shying away from them. Stylistically, Weathering With You is filled with the director Makoto Shinkai’s signature shots of the Tokyo cityscape. The rock group Radwimps return to once again to do the score.

As with the previous film, Weathering With You interweaves Shinto beliefs with contemporary Japanese life. In Shintoism, there is a tradition of praying for good weather, and Weathering with You explains how in the past, those with a direct connection to the weather would perform prayers and rituals for clear weather. Of course, Japan has a long-standing spiritual connection to the sun.

Also as in Your Name, Shinkai once again makes striking contrasts between these elements of traditional Japanese culture and modern life. For example, teru teru bozu, which look like little ghosts, appear throughout the film. Teru teru bozu literally means “shrine shrine Buddhist priest,” and these little talisman are still made today out of tissue paper, typically by children praying for clear skies. Just like in Japanese society, Buddhist and Shinto beliefs exist side by side in Weathering With You.

But unlike Your Name, in which Tokyo was a chic city with fashionable streets and delicious food, the Tokyo of Weathering With You is filled dingy streets, rusted staircases, old love hotels and shady characters. It’s an unforgiving place, wet and cold, where people must do anything to survive.

During an early Tokyo montage, a “Vanilla” truck recruiting women for the sex industry rolls by, playing the recruitment jingle offering “high-paying work” to women. You’re bound to hear that on the actual streets of Tokyo, but this is the first time I’ve heard it in an anime. It was jarring and unexpected, and that was probably the point.

Hodaka starts applies for some part-time work, but the replies he gets are for jobs in fuzoku (the sex industry). He goes to a series of interviews, probably to manage one of those types of places, and gets rebuffed by yakuza types for being too young. With no options for work, he ends up on the street, tired and hungry. It’s a stark view of Tokyo and one that isn’t typically shown in mainstream anime or Japanese movies. This isn’t the Tokyo of Your Name, and in that regard, it makes for a fascinating contrast.

But that’s the problem. When Weathering With You is compared to Your Name, it reveals more of the latest film’s weaknesses. Parts of Your Name are silly and dumb, but the emotional high points are pulled off with deep, emotional meanings on multiple levels. For example, Your Name makes several indirect references to the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. For audiences in Japan, the imagery evokes incredibly powerful memories.

However, in Weathering With You, the connection to real-world weather seems muted and like a missed opportunity. Weather in Japan has long been predictable. But in the past few years, Japanese weather, like weather all over the world, has gotten increasingly strange, relentless and dangerous. In the movie, it’s mentioned how the weather has been changing, but it’s in relation to how spring and summer have become less enjoyable for kids in Japan. There’s nothing about how dangerous this weather has become. And even with the movie shows the power of weather, the impact is underplayed.

While the supernatural elements in Your Name feel organic, the supernatural elements in Weathering With You, especially later in the film, do not. Much of Weathering With You’s plot feels like plot, designed to shuffle audiences along to specific scenes, and certain story elements were clumsily executed and seem more at home in your typical Hollywood movie. While the characters are sympathetic, some of the decisions made later in the movie are downright selfish, with little thought given to the larger ramifications of their actions. They’re teenagers, so I guess that makes sense, but once they’re confronted with the results of those decisions, there doesn’t seem to be much reflection or thought given to them.

That doesn’t mean Weathering With You is a bad movie. It’s not. It’s good. Go see it. Parts of the movie are incredibly moving. Shinkai’s ability to contrast traditional Japanese religion and beliefs with modern society continues to be interesting. He’s an exciting filmmaker, and I look forward to seeing what he does in his next film.

But ultimately, the biggest problem that Weathering With You has is this: it’s the follow up to Your Name. Thankfully, the next film won’t have that issue.


Big GTA 5 Online Update Coming Next Week–Here’s What It Adds

Grand Theft Auto V‘s Online mode continues to expand, and next week developer Rockstar is building on the mode once again. On July 23 the game will receive a new update to add an entire new location, The Diamond Casino & Resort.

“The massive construction project on the corner of Vinewood Park Drive and Mirror Park Boulevard is nearing completion, radically changing the skyline of Los Santos forever,” Rockstar says of the new update. “If you’re looking to dive into the action, the casino floor has a selection of activities to enjoy. Play against the house using Chips in Three Card Poker, Blackjack and Roulette. Slot Machines with a variety of prizes are also at your fingertips, while Inside Track offers a lounge to watch and cheer along with friends as the drama of virtual horse racing unfolds. Spin the Lucky Wheel in the lobby for chips, cash, and clothing or even the new Truffade Thrax supercar that can be found whirling on the podium during opening week. And be sure to check back each week to see what new high-end vehicle can be won.”

There’s also a new property type–the Master Penthouse–purchasable as part of the resort. Owners of the penthouse will also gain access to VIP areas of the resort, a roof terrace and infinity pool, and a new storyline involving the Diamond family. Luckily, Twitch Prime members can purchase the Master Penthouse for free if they link their accounts by the end of July 19. For more, check out all the Twitch Prime rewards for GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.

In related news Rockstar was recently confirmed to be developing for Google Stadia, though we don’t know what game–or games–that applies to. GTA V with GTA Online would be one possibility, since it already has a successful PC version up and running, though rumors of a Red Dead Redemption 2 PC version have also circulated in recent months.


Blacksad: Under The Skin Is All About Corruption, A New Theme For The Mystery Series

Published by Microïds and developed in partnership between Pendulo Studios and YS Interactive, Blacksad: Under the Skin is a mystery adventure game derived from a Spanish comic album, Blacksad. The comic follows the fictional investigations of a private eye detective in 1950s New York, each volume dealing with a different political or ethical theme of the time period. Volume 2: Arctic Nation, for example, is primarily about racism while Volume 3: Red Soul takes place during the Red Scare. Under the Skin is no different, forming its story around the changing social landscape of the US during one of the most tumultuous moments in the country’s history.

Like the comic, Under the Skin features anthropomorphic animals as its characters, using the commonly associated traits of animals to create a surface-level context for each person. Arctic foxes, for instance, are typically calculating, cold-hearted white supremacists while raccoons, reptiles, and amphibians are all usually profiled as petty criminals. You play as a dark-haired cat, the titular John Blacksad, a black man struggling to make a living as a private detective. He’s sassy, cunning, and mostly keeps to himself, and his incredible senses of sight and smell help him make observational deductions that most others cannot.

In Under the Skin, you shape Blacksad’s decisions as he unravels a new mystery: a missing persons case. Sonia Dunn hires Blacksad to find boxing star Robert Yale, who disappeared several days before the most important fight of his career. Yale disappeared the same day that Joe Dunn, who’s Sonia’s father and Yale’s trainer, was found hanging from the rafters of his gym in what appears to be an obvious suicide. Joe’s death leaves the gym to his daughter, along with the heavy amount of debt it had accrued. To get the necessary publicity to keep the gym from closing, Sonia needs to find Yale and get him to fight.

As Blacksad, you’re free to explore a series of connected hub areas in New York in order to interview witnesses and suspects. If the preview demo is any indication, the game does not hold your hand for most of the story, forcing you to piece together where to go next and who to talk to without any sort of waypoint, only relenting by giving you a nudge with a notification that you’ve gathered enough clues to make a deduction. It’s at this point that you can arrange collected evidence in a way that you believe makes sense. Some of what you learn is useless though, so you’ll have to figure out what clues connect to what. And although certain deductions are necessary for advancing the plot, some seem to be optional.

You don’t necessarily need to tell the black boxer at Sonia’s gym which of his fellow gym mates wrote the very explicit racist slurs all over the locker room, for example. That small side story isn’t a part of the overarching mystery and choosing to ignore it doesn’t prevent you from moving on in the main narrative. That said, choosing to reveal the racist’s identity most likely alters the overall fate of the boxer, who angrily says he’s going to kill the scumbag next time they meet. The demo ended before we could discover whether he does follow through on that murderous intent, though, so there’s currently no way to know for sure. Revealing the racist’s identity might be one of those good intentions that backfire in the worst way, a common occurrence in the Blacksad comic.

In order to ensure the game would be authentic to the world of the comic, the studios behind Under the Skin went directly to the source. “We wanted to involve the authors as much as possible,” Microïds game producer Nouredine Saad told GameSpot. “When Pendulo got involved and we started to create the characters and original art, we involved [Blacksad’s creators] by showing them everything. And when I say everything, it’s everything–all the characters, the 2D and 3D designs. We showed it [all] to the authors. The voice-overs as well when we started to record. It was important for us to just involve the authors like that. They could say, ‘Okay, I’d prefer Blacksad have a deeper voice or I want a lighter voice for Weekly.'”

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Under the Skin takes place after the second comic album (between the aforementioned Arctic Nation and Red Soul volumes), and delves into a theme that hasn’t been heavily explored in a Blacksad comic before: corruption. “When we studied the ’50s for the story for this game, we noticed that there was, at this time, a growing issue with corruption in sports because of gambling and bets,” Pendulo Studios co-founder and CEO Felipe Pinilla said. “There were many controlled fights where you bet for one [boxer] knowing that he’d lose or win. And those [actions] make room for more corruption behind that, such as [drug abuse].”

Thus, Under the Skin is a brand-new standalone story in the Blacksad universe, and the studios behind the game want fans to view this game as the unofficial sixth entry in Blacksad’s story. “We have five, six characters from the comic book,” Saad said. “All the other characters are original to the game. The [world is] the same. We are in the ’50s. We are in the US. We have anthropomorphic animals, everything. But [this game] is the sixth album. We have five comic books and this is the sixth.”

Depending on your choices there will be several different endings.

This theme of corruption begins to bleed through the game’s story in its very first scene. The preview demo covers the first two hours or so of Under the Skin’s story, and the game opens with a confrontation with an angry rhinoceros whose wife believes he’s cheating on her. Through Blacksad’s internal monologue, we discover he already knows the rhino has been unfaithful and that there’s photographic proof. After the husband finishes pleading his side though, the game presents you with your first moral choice: tell the wife the truth, take a bribe and lie to the wife, or refuse the bribe but still lie to the wife. Your decision doesn’t have immediate consequences, though the effects of your choice begin revealing themselves about an hour later and continue to snowball.

“Depending on your choices, [Blacksad] can be a tough guy or a sensitive guy,” Saad said. “At the very beginning of the game, a rhino tries to give you some money. You can take it or not. You have moral choices.” Choosing to refuse the money, but also lie to the wife causes her to be grateful that her marriage, and thus her family, is secure, and when you run into her husband again later in the story, he thanks you for covering for him. However, Blacksad’s friend and sidekick who took the pictures, Weekly, will be miffed on losing out on some bribe money (if you decide to tell him about it, that is, as you can also hide the truth) and Blacksad himself will continue to wrestle with both the morality of what he’s done and his dwindling finances. Given how important the rhino, Weekly, and Blacksad’s financial situation appear to be to the overall plot, the consequences of that initial decision will seemingly continue to pop up as the narrative continues. And that’s just the first choice. The demo proves it is not the last.

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“Depending on your choices there will be several different endings,” Pinilla said. “You’re Blacksad and the character will evolve depending on your choices, whether you are talkative or more quiet or whether you’re someone willing to be blackmailed. The main ending [of the game] will be the same, but there will be some difference in the outcome.”

“It’s important for us to involve the player and not just have Blacksad decide everything for you,” Saad said. “You, as a player, you can decide and say, ‘These are my decisions based on my deductions that I’m making. I’m solving the case and not Blacksad.’ If we let Blacksad [control] the game, it [wouldn’t be] your own moral choices and moral decisions.”

That’s part of the reason why you only play as Blacksad in Under the Skin, instead of both Blacksad and Weekly as was initially planned, Saad added. The studios felt that, for Under the Skin’s story to work, it’s important to focus the player’s sense of morality and willingness to resist corruption through one character with every other character having their own moral code. Seeing the game through multiple characters’ point-of-view would allow the player to be a puppet master and shape the story to an ideal conclusion. The hardest part of Blacksad’s life is that he’s a great detective, but he doesn’t know exactly what people are thinking. He’s not psychic. The player is no different, so at no point does the game switch to offer an alternative point-of-view so that it’s easier to make educated deductions that give everyone the best possible ending. You need to decide what’s morally right for yourself, and then live with the consequences of your choices.

Blacksad: Under the Skin is scheduled to release for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on September 26.


The Kyoto Animation Studio Was About More Than Just Anime

Back in April 2006, as an American living in Osaka, I had only been working here at Kotaku for a few months when a new anime took the internet by storm. At that time, cosplayers at otaku events across Japan were dressing up as the lead character in Kyoto Animation’s latest show, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and copying the dance routine found in its closing credits.

As reported yesterday, a devastating fire ravaged Kyoto Animation’s studio in the Fushimi district. As of writing, thirty-three people are confirmed dead and the suspected arsonist is in police custody. This is truly tragic.

Kyoto Animation is one of Japan’s most popular studios and helped make Kyoto more synonymous with anime, even setting its 2015 show Sound Euphonium in the city. But for many fans, it was Haruhi that put the studio on the map. Originally a light novel illustrated by Noizi Ito, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the breakout anime of 2006. At the same time, YouTube was just blowing up and was being inundated with videos of fans performing Haruhi dances.

Cosplay was also in the process of going global in a big way, and again, Haruhi was at the heart of a cultural explosion, with people from all over Japan (and the West) starting to dress up as the schoolgirl star. It was quickly becoming the iconic anime of the time. Kyoto Animation had created a cultural force.

Kyoto Animation not only made Haruhi massively popular but also put its own stamp on the show. The studio showed its panache for producing enjoyable shows with widespread appeal, and by the year’s end, New Type magazine was declaring The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya the country’s most popular anime. In 2007, Kyoto Animation followed up with Lucky Star, another series set in a school, and also another series with a super-catchy credit sequence. Moving adaptations of visual novels from Osaka-based Key showed the studio’s range.

Kyoto Animation’s style really started to come into its own during the mid-to-late 2000s, with its big-eyed stars leading the way. Just as Disney and Studio Ghibli have their own signature look, so does Kyoto Animation.

But it also became notable for things it did away from the screen, like promoting women to director roles (a rarity in anime, even today), for trying to pay its staff above-average wages and for making shows a wide range of people can enjoy.

Moe Eyes

Kyoto Animation became closely identified with the moe style, which is different from kawaii or “cute.” Moe (萌え) literally means “budding” or “sprouting” but its slang use has a much more nuanced meaning. Back in 2009, when working on my book Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential, I interviewed Haruhi’s original illustrator Noizi Ito about the word’s meaning and remember her telling me how it’s a warm fuzzy feeling people get towards characters. Ito designed Haruhi, but it was Kyoto Animation who made her world-famous.

Kyoto Animation is also notable for what it didn’t do. So many companies founded in the area leave the Kansai region once they become more successful, fleeing Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto for the lure of Tokyo. But Kyoto Animation, despite its success, stayed in Kansai, where it continued to create anime loved by people all over the world. Kyoto was more than just geishas and scenic views, but also a place where some of Japan’s most beloved anime was made.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Kyoto’s historic Fushimi district. I have seen how buildings are crammed in between narrow roads and sake breweries. This is a region that’s home to famous temples and shrines, many of them centuries old or older, but for anime fans, Kyoto Animation has become just as important.

Sentai Works has set up a fundraiser for Kyoto Animation. You can donate here.


What Happens If Google Stadia Shuts Down? Developer Answers

Google’s new game-streaming service, Google Stadia, is launching in November. Unlike traditional consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, Stadia is a streaming service with no local hardware beyond the controller. This means everything happens in the cloud. Naturally, people want to know what happens if Stadia shuts down, as numerous other Google products have in the past.

During a Reddit AMA today, Stadia’s director of product, Andrey Doronichev, said this is a question that the team gets a lot. And he understands how people might be afraid to move to the cloud.

“I hear you. Moving to the cloud is scary,” he said. “I felt the same way when music was transitioning from files to streaming. I still have all my old CDs in the garage… although it’s hard to find a CD player these days :)”

Doronichev went on to say that movies, photos, and documents have all generally moved to the cloud, and that has generally gone well. The same can be true for games, he said.

“The same happened to Movies and Photos and my Docs and other files… And it’s great! Games are no different. Eventually all of our games will be safely in the cloud too and we’ll feel great about it,” Doronichev said. “We’ve been investing a ton in tech, infrastructure and partnerships over the past few years. Nothing in life is certain, but we’re committed to making Stadia a success.”

Doronichev added that Google Stadia will support the “Takeout” feature from day one. This allows players to download the metadata of their games, including game saves. However, games themselves cannot be downloaded, so if Stadia shuts down, players may not be able to access their games.

“Of course, it’s OK to doubt my words,” Doronichev said. “There’s nothing I can say now to make you believe if you don’t. But what we can do is to launch the service and continue investing in it for years to come. Exactly how we’ve been doing with gMail, Docs, Music, Movies and Photos. That’s exactly what we’re committed to.”

Concerns about game ownership and ongoing support for games is not exclusive to Stadia. The servers for older console and PC games are often shut down over time as developers shift their focus to newer titles. While physical media remains important in the gaming industry, digital is taking up a bigger piece of the pie as time goes on.

Stadia launches in November in some parts of the world, including the United States. A $10 USD/month subscription gets you access to a growing library of games. A $130 USD Stadia Founder’s Edition comes with the Google controller, a Chromecast Ultra, 3 months of Stadia Pro, a copy of Destiny 2 (and all the expansions), and other extras.

Microsoft’s game-streaming service, xCloud, is attempting to steal some of Stadia’s thunder, as the first public trials will begin in October.


Robert Kirkman says Negan spinoff comic still possible after The Walking Dead

Earlier this month, Robert Kirkman’s long-running zombie outbreak comic The Walking Dead came to a surprising, fulfilling end. Planned all along, the writer used tricks of the trade to mask the conclusion of his saga, which definitively ended with issue #192. And there was a bit of happiness to the where things left off. The world was … kind of better.

“It’s a world where people have put through their paces, pushed to their limits, learned who they are as people,” Kirkman said during his 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel. “It’s put everyone in a different mindset than we operate like we do now […] People learn to appreciate what they have.”

But is it the end end of The Walking Dead? Though the television series and Fear the Walking Dead set to continue, and a third YA-like series set to film this summer, the brand is very much alive. But for Kirkman, that’s it. While he joked that he saw himself returning to zombie lore in a radically different way in the future — he’s known for the genre after all — The Walking Dead as fans knew it was over.


Asked if Negan, left alive by #192, could potentially return, Kirkman squirmed. He was aware.

“Negan is alive. He’s still out there, theoretically living in that farm house. There might be a story to tell there,” he said at the panel.

“If my career takes a nosedive, I could roll out a Negan comic,” he joked, adding that he has tons of secret projects in the works, and hopes to spring many of them on fans when they least expect it.

Later in the afternoon, an audience member asked Kirkman if he had any regrets over the 16-year course of The Walking Dead.

“I don’t really have regrets. The reason I can do so much work is that I’m always focused on what’s coming next.”

One of those things might be more Negan.


Gears 5 Multiplayer Tech Test: Here’s Exactly When Servers Go Live And How To Get In

Gears 5 doesn’t release until September, but Microsoft is inviting players in for a sneak peek during this weekend’s technical test for the multiplayer mode. The client is already available to download for Xbox One and PC, and now the studio has confirmed exactly when the servers go live.

When Do Servers Go Live

The tech test begins July 19 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET, and it runs through the same time on July 22. A second tech test runs the following weekend, from July 26 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET through July 29 at the same time.

What’s In It

The Gears 5 Tech Test includes three modes (Arcade, Escalation, and King of the Hill), along with two multiplayer maps–District and Training Grounds. The test also includes the new Bootcamp mode, which is a tutorial mode of sorts that teaches players the basics.

Also included in the tech test is “Tour of Duty,” which is a progression system that rewards players with the “Tester Weapon Skin” by completing certain challenges; the skin will be available in Gears 5 when it releases.

How To Get In

Access to the Gears 5 tech test is locked behind a paywall. You must either pre-order the game or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass (standard or Ultimate) to try out the game.

For lots more on the granular details on the Gears 5 tech test, read this FAQ. You can also see the minimum and recommend PC specs here.


Watch the newest trailer for HBO’s His Dark Materials series

The BBC and HBO’s His Dark Materials TV series has roared into San Diego Comic-Con with a new trailer full of iconic moments from The Golden Compass.

Highlights include the terrifying scene where Pantalaimon, Lyra’s daemon, is attacked by a certain golden monkey, as well as scenes from the facility at the North Pole.

These are all familiar elements of Philip Pullman’s famed young adult fantasy series of the same name, previously and partially adapted in 2007’s The Golden Compass. The new TV series is taking another stab at the trilogy, with a cast that includes Daphne Keene (Logan) as lead character Lyra Belacqua, Ruth Wilson as the sinister Mrs. Coulter, James McAvoy as the mysterious Lord Asriel, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as adventurer Lee Scoresby.

At the San Diego Comic-Con panel where the trailer was revealed, Lin Manuel-Miranda said that puppets were used on-set as stand-ins for the CGI daemons. Much like in the 2018 Christopher Robin adaptation, the puppets helped the actors maintain eye contact and stay in the moment.

The show will also expand Mrs. Coulter’s character, something that couldn’t be done in The Golden Compass, which is told from Lyra’s point of view. The show will answer why Mrs. Coulter’s daemon is a monkey, and also why their relationship is different from other human-daemon pairings: generally humans can’t move very far from their daemons, but Mrs. Coulter and that horrible monkey prove the exception.

The BBC greenlit the show in 2015, and in 2018 HBO stepped in as co-producer and international distributor — which is why you’ll be able to watch the eight-episode first season and the already greenlit second season on your HBO Go app and the BBC.

The series has no release date yet, but will premiere in the United States sometime in “late 2019.”


Streamer Tries To Test PUBG Bug, Accidentally Lands Shot Of A Lifetime

Sometimes, there’s just no point in trying—for instance, when you’ve got to nail a shot on a target that’s several football fields’ worth of space away. Luckily for Twitch streamer Jake “ChocoTaco” Throop, he wasn’t trying at all. Or at least, he wasn’t trying to do that particular thing.

Throop just wanted to demonstrate a Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds bug that involved his gun’s bolt. This involved swapping away from the gun, swapping back, and then firing it. From inside an otherwise-abandoned building, he aimed at a window and let out a totally random shot, with no intent to strike anybody.

Then the game told him he’d gotten a kill. From 401 meters away.

Throop’s jaw hung agape. Then he burst out laughing. “What?” he asked in a high-pitched tone. He tried to resume explaining the bug, but couldn’t keep it together. “Oh my god,” he said between fits of laughter, “who knew science could be so beneficial?”

Later, he watched the shot from the perspective of the person he managed to eliminate. They’d been knocked down in a skirmish, but not finished off. They crawled feebly in a lightly forested area. Then Throop’s bullet struck them in the backside, their ragdoll body rocketing several feet into the air. A fitting conclusion to a magnificent moment of video game slapstick. Somehow, Throop barely reacted, but his chat knew what was up.

“AND THE ELEVATION,” said one viewer.

“OUTTA HERE,” said another.


The Best-Selling Games And Systems Of June 2019 (US)

The NPD Group has released its report for June 2019, and it wasn’t a great month for the United States video game industry. Every tracked category–software, hardware, and accessories/game cards–posted a year-over-year decrease in sales. In total, across all categories, spending for June 2019 reached $959 million; that’s down 13 percent year-over-year.

In terms of game sales, Super Mario Maker 2 was June’s top-seller. Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, Mortal Kombat 11, Grand Theft Auto V, and Minecraft rounded out the top five. As for Mario Maker 2, its launch month sales were stronger than the first game in September 2015 and Super Mario Maker for 3DS in December 2016.

Nitro Fueled’s June sales amounted to the highest launch-month sales in the history of the Crash Bandicoot series. The N. Sane Trilogy was the previous record-holder.

As for Mortal Kombat 11, it continues to be the best-selling game of 2019. Additionally, with June’s sales accounted for, Mortal Kombat 11 has now passed the lifetime sales of 2011’s Mortal Kombat, but it’s still behind y Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat III.

Total spending on video games in the US for June 2019 amounted to $386 million, which is down 1 percent.

Moving to hardware, the Nintendo Switch was the top-selling system of June, while it is also the No. 1 best-seller for the entire first half of 2019 in terms of unit and dollar sales. It’s expected that the PS4 and Xbox One would be performing comparatively poorly due to their age relative to the Switch. Next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are expected to release in Holiday 2020.

Total hardware spending for June 2019 fell a dramatic 33 percent to $235 million. Only the Nintendo Switch posted year-over-year growth.

In terms of accessories and game cards, spending dropped 7 percent to $338 million. Sony’s black DualShock 4 controller was the top-selling accessory of June 2019 and the entire year so far.

Top 20 Best-Selling Games Of June 2019

  1. Super Mario Maker 2*
  2. Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled
  3. Mortal Kombat 11
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Minecraft#
  6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  7. Spider-Man
  8. NBA 2K19
  9. Mario Kart 8*
  10. Days Gone
  11. Rainbow Six Siege
  12. Red Dead Redemption II
  13. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  14. MLB 19: The Show
  15. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  16. The Division 2^
  17. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  18. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  19. Super Mario Party*
  20. God of War

*Digital sales not included

^PC digital sales not included

#Minecraft digital sales on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One included