Video Game Sales Slip Again in September

Video game hardware and software sales continue to suffer declines, but sales of accessories picked up in September.

A struggling video game industry saw another decline in the month of September, with hardware sales plunging nearly 20 percent to $383 million, compared with $472 million in September 2009. Video game software sales fell 6 percent to $614 million, from $649 million the previous September. And total video game sales slumped 8 percent to $1.18 billion last month, down from $1.28 billion the industry reaped last September. The lone bright spot was sales of video game accessories, as sales climbed 13 percent to $180 million, up from the $159 million consumers spent last September.
While retail sales showed a decline versus year ago, "it's important to remember that there is a growing volume of content being sold digitally, or otherwise outside the traditional retail channel," said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier. "These numbers reflect the largest channel for hardware, software and accessories sales, but there are content sales happening elsewhere.
"Hardware unit sales, with the exception of the Xbox 360, are down versus last September, but a couple other platforms, specifically the PS3 and the PSP, are up on an average sales-per-week basis as compared to last month," she said. "Xbox 360 hardware sales were up versus last year, and this month marks the best month of unit sales for the platform yet in 2010, which says a lot considering sales are up 34 percent on a year-to-date basis."
On the software sales side, the company reported that "Halo:Reach" was the best-selling game of the month, moving 3.3 million units not including those bundled with hardware. This is comparable to the first month sales of both "Halo:3" and "Halo:2." Two platform exclusive games made it into the top 10 list for September: "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep" on the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) and "Metroid: Other M" on the Nintendo Wii. NPD also noted that in September seven of the top 10 games were new titles.
"The three PS3 Move SKUs residing in the accessories category each made the top 10 in unit sales of accessory items for the month of September," Frazier noted. "The 360 Live 1600 point card was once again the best-selling accessory item, followed this month by the PS3 $20 Network Card. We continue to examine industry sales that occur outside the traditional retail channel, and the success of these items at retail points to the growing importance of sales via digital distribution."

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 networks in addition to retail point-of-sale data will be reported on later this year, a company release noted.

Frazier said 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.