The video game industry experienced another disappointing month in August, with physical retail sales of hardware, content and accessories declining again as compared to last year. In fact, this month reflected the lowest sales for August since 2006. Total industry sales for August 2010 fell 10 percent to $818.9 million compared with last year’s $910.3 million take. Hardware sales fell 5 percent, to $282.9 million, down from $297.6 million for the same period last year.
Video game software sales slipped an even larger 14 percent, down to $403.5 million from $471.2 million in August 2009. While all categories are down in both dollars and units, the portable portion of the industry is down to a greater extent than is the console portion. Portable dollar sales across hardware, software and accessories are down 25 percent versus last August, while console dollar sales are down six percent.
“Factoring in seasonality and taking into account some of the incredible games and accessories (for example, Move and Kinect) that are coming out during the remainder of the year, new physical retail video game sales are likely to land in the range of $18.6 to $20 billion for the year,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “The 360 and PS3 platforms both grew in dollar sales versus last year. In fact, the 360 platform contributed more than one-third of total new physical retail sales across hardware, software and accessories while the PS3 platform contributed over one-quarter of total dollar sales.”
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console led the month in console sales, moving 356,700 units, followed by Nintendo’s Wii console with 244,300 units sold. Nintendo’s portable DS device led overall hardware sales, with 342,700 units sold. Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3) console sold 226,000 units, while the company’s portable console, the PSP, sold just 79,400 units. Frazier said the 360 and PS3 platforms both grew in dollar sales versus last year and pointed out that the 360 platform contributed more than one-third of total new physical retail sales across hardware, software and accessories while the PS3 platform contributed moer than one-quarter of total dollar sales.
Frazier said that while the Xbox 360 achieved significant year-over-year gains, sales softened versus what occurred in July. “That said, with [software title] Halo: Reach coming to market next week, if hardware sales react in a similar fashion to what was experienced when Halo 3 was launched in September 2007, September could be a huge sales month for Xbox 360 hardware,” she noted. “The PS3 was the only current generation hardware system that realized a sales increase over July. The PS3 has now enjoyed 13 consecutive months of year-over year hardware sales increases and that momentum is reflected in the content and accessories categories as well.”
NPD’s monthly sales reporting reflects the new physical retail sales portion of industry sales. Sales resulting from used games, digital downloads and downloadable content, rentals, subscriptions, mobile games and social network in addition to retail point-of-sale data will be reported on later this year. Frazier noted one area outside of retail point-of-sale that many people are interested in is the arena of social network gaming. “Our recent report on this topic shows that nearly 57 million people in the U.S. have played a game on a social network in the past three months, and of those, 10 percent have spent real money of their own on buying virtual currency or goods for their game,” she said.