The NPD Group reports that despite a strong December finish, full-year video game sales came in 8 percent below last year's record-setting revenues.
sales of video games, which includes portable and console hardware, software
and accessories, generated revenues of close to $19.66 billion, an 8 percent
decline over the $21.4 billion generated in 2008, according to market research
company The NPD Group.
Retail sales in the PC game software industry also experienced declines,
with revenues down 23 percent, generating $538 million in 2009. The total
console, portable and PC game software industry generated $10.5 billion, an 11
percent decline versus the $11.7 billion generated in 2008.
Aside from portable hardware, which experienced a 6 percent increase in
revenue in 2009, all video game categories experienced declines, with the
largest decline coming from console hardware, which saw a 13 percent drop.
Console software and portable software both experienced declines of 10 percent,
while video game accessories experienced a 1 percent decline.
"Clearly, 2009 was a tough year for consumers and the national economy.
However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry's strength;
2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry's history," said
Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of
the Entertainment Software Association, the U.S. association representing
computer and video game publishers. "That said, our industry's structure is
solid, and I anticipate a strong 2010 with a pipeline full of highly anticipated
For the month of December, the video game industry experienced its biggest
sales month ever, besting last December by 4 percent.
For the year, the only category to see an increase over 2008 was
portable hardware, which was up due to a 7 percent increase in average retail
price. Nintendo's portable DS platform, across all categories, contributed
17 percent of total industry dollars in 2009, up 3 points from 2008.
"Unit sales were down only 6 percent from last year. Average retail prices
were down in all categories except for portable hardware and accessories, which
led to the greater dollar sales decline," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
Frazier noted that December marks just the fourth month of the year where
the industry saw an increase over last year. "January and February were both
up, and since the decline that began in March, only September experienced
growth," she said. "The big sales this month, particularly on the hardware
front, are a positive move for the industry headed into what will hopefully be
a recovery year in 2010."
On the console front, the Nintendo Wii and DS were big winners, moving 3.8
million and 3.3 million units, respectively. The PlayStation 3 followed with
1.36 million units sold, in turn followed by Microsoft's Xbox 360 console,
which moved 1.31 million units. Sony's stalwart PlayStation 2 moved 333,000
units, a decade after its original release, and the company's portable console,
the PSP, moved 654,000 units. The top three game titles for December all
belonged to Nintendo, where "New Super Mario Bros." for Wii, "Wii
Fit Plus" and "Wii Sports Resort" each sold more than 1.5
"When we started the last decade, video game industry sales, including
PC games, totaled $7.98 billion in 2000," said Frazier. "In 10 years,
the industry has changed dramatically in many ways, but most importantly it has
grown over those years by more than 250 percent at retail alone. Considering
there are many new sources of revenue, including subscriptions and digital
distribution, industry growth is even more impressive."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.