Game sales perk up in September, but console sales remain down
The industry scored $630.2 million in sales of games sold at retail stores last month, up from $612.1 million a year earlier. But revenue from game consoles fumbled 9% to $349 million, down from $382.9 million in September 2010, as manufacturers cut the cost of devices used to play those games, such as the Nintendo hand-held 3DS console, whose price tag went from $250 when it launched in March to $170 just five months later.
The decline in hardware offset the gains in game sales, leading to a 6% overall decline in total sales to $1.16 billion from $1.23 billion in September 2010.
Nevertheless, the modest, but notable, improvement in software sales is expected to continue through the remainder of the year as the industry heads into the crucial holiday season, when as much as half of game retail sales are rung up, analysts agree.
"Every month will be up from here," said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
Fueling analysts' optimism is an unusually robust lineup of blockbuster titles scheduled for release in the coming weeks, including Battlefield 3, Batman Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Star Wars and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Even though game sales are expected to finish strong, many believe that the industry will still end up down from last year because of devastating declines earlier this year, particularly during the summer months. July sales, for instance, plunged 26%, followed by a 21% drop in August.
Pachter estimates the industry's year will be down 4% compared with 2010.
Notably, sales of online, social and mobile games are not included in NPD's monthly sales report. All three categories have grown substantially as consumers spend more time playing games on Facebook and on devices such as the iPad and Android smartphones.
As for traditional games sold on old-fashioned discs, click on the "continue reading" link below.
1. Madden NFL 12 (Electronic Arts)
2. Gears of War 3 (Microsoft)
3. Dead Island (Deep Silver)
4. FIFA Soccer 12 (Electronic Arts)
5. NHL 12 (Electronic Arts)
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Square Enix)
7. Resistance 3 (Sony)
8. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts)
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard)
10. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (THQ)
Source: NPD Group
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Screen shot of Madden NFL 12. Credit: Electronic Arts Inc.