Sony's started 2016 much in the same way as it finished the previous year: with an NPD victory. The industry intelligence group tracks retail sales in the United States, and have declared the PlayStation 4 the best-selling system throughout the month of January. This, obviously, doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, as the first few weeks of the year are generally slow, but the Japanese giant will be chuffed nonetheless – especially seeing as the platform grew year-over-year.

"Thanks to our fans and partners for making the PS4 the top-selling platform and software sales leader in January, according to NPD," a Sony spokesperson told Games Beat. "PS4 saw impressive year-over-year growth in both hardware and software sales. We appreciate the support and will continue to deliver on our promise to bring the best entertainment experiences to gamers."

Despite this, it was a very weak month for the industry, with sales declining four per cent year-over-year. Hardware fell the hardest, down 15 per cent compared to January 2015, due to the average selling price of both the PS4 and Xbox One falling. Software also dipped from $235.6 million to $212.7 million, though Dying Light was a pretty big hit this time last year.

Without a hot new release, the physical software sales for the month were dominated by evergreen favourites: Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K16, Star Wars Battlefront, and Fallout 4 filled out the top five. LEGO Marvel's Avengers was the highest ranking newcomer, assembling in ninth position. PS4 was the lead platform for most games, though it's worth noting that bundle sales for Black Ops III and Battlefront aren't included in this data.

All in all, a pretty slow month, then, but Sony will be very pleased with the annual growth – especially as it looks to build upon 2015's impressive success. We doubt much is going to change in February to be honest, with the biggest games including Far Cry Primal and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. It's perhaps mentioning that the highest profile new releases of the year so far – The Witness and Firewatch – have both been digital exclusives. Are we slowly starting to see a shift away from physical releases? It's too early to say that – but the industry is definitely changing.

Top Ten Physical Retail Releases: January 2016

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
  3. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  4. Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
  5. Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  6. Minecraft (360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)
  7. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
  8. Madden NFL 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  9. LEGO Marvel's Avengers (PS4, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, PS3, 3DS, Vita)
  10. FIFA 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)

[source venturebeat.com, via venturebeat.com, neogaf.com]