The August NPD results have been released, with software sales up 22% to $488 million, Madden NFL dominating game charts with three of the top four-selling SKUs, and the Nintendo Wii and DS again running away with the hardware charts, as Xbox 360 sales surge and PS3 sales decline.
Specifically, the overall numbers are impressive, with game hardware and software sales combined up to $993 million in August 2007, from just $669 million in August 2006. Overall game hardware numbers were particularly strong, up to $384 million from $198 million the previous year, but all sectors saw growth.
Looking at year to date numbers, the industry is up an eye-opening 43% in 2007 compared to 2006 thus far, thanks to next-gen console launches and the popularity of the Nintendo DS and PSP, topping $8 billion for the year so far, compared to $5.06 million in 2006.
Turning to hardware sales for the month, the top sellers for August 2007 in North America, listed in descending order with lifetime to date statistics in brackets, are as follows:
Nintendo Wii - 403,600 (4.0 million)
Nintendo DS - 383,300 (12.7 million)
Xbox 360 - 276,700 (6.3 million)
PlayStation 2 - 202,000 (39.1 million)
PlayStation Portable - 151,200 (8.3 million)
PlayStation 3 - 130,600 (1.75 million)
Comparing to July's sales, the Xbox 360's sales have surged from 170,000 to 276,700 thanks to its price cut, but the PlayStation 3's sales have actually declined in August over July's 159,000. The PSP's sales also declined from 214,000 to 151,200, presumably ahead of the PSP Slim's launch, while both Nintendo's DS and Wii edged down slightly (around 20,000 units each) from July's figures - but still comfortably lead the hardware race.
Turning to game software, which is up 21% year to date in 2007, from $2.3 billion to $2.8 billion, here are the Top 10 best-selling SKUs for the month of August, in descending order:
1. Madden NFL 08 (Xbox 360) - Electronic Arts - 896,600
2. Madden NFL 08 (PlayStation 2) - Electronic Arts - 643,600
3. BioShock (Xbox 360) - Take-Two - 490,900
4. Madden NFL 08 (PlayStation 3) - Electronic Arts - 336,200
5. Wii Play (Wii) - Nintendo - 256,800
6. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) - Nintendo - 218,100
7. Mario Strikers: Charged (Wii) - Nintendo - 147,400
8. Guitar Hero 2 Bundle (PlayStation 2) - Activision - 145,400
9. Mario Party 8 (Wii) - Nintendo - 138,300
10. Guitar Hero Encore (PlayStation 2) - Activision - 127,100
In addition, NPD provided the rest of the Top 20 this month, but lacking exact sales numbers - a nonetheless interesting countdown:
11. Madden NFL 08 (Xbox) - Electronic Arts
12. Madden NFL 08 (Wii) - Electronic Arts
13. Brain Age 2 (DS) - Nintendo
14. Two Worlds (Xbox 360) - Southpeak
15. Pokemon Diamond (DS) - Nintendo
16. High School Musical: Makin' The Cut (DS) - Disney
17. Guitar Hero 2 Bundle (Xbox 360) - Activision
18. Madden NFL 08 (PSP) - Electronic Arts
19. Pokemon Pearl (DS) - Nintendo
20. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 (Xbox 360) - Electronic Arts
The NPD's analyst Anita Frazier pointed out a couple of specific items of interest among the game statistics, in comments released alongside the charts. Firstly, she observed that this is the first time a Microsoft platform has taken top honors in unit sales for the Madden series in its first month of release.
Secondly of interest, according to Frazier, is that at only 1% growth, unit sales of console software are virtually flat year-to-date (YTD), as dollar growth is coming from higher retail prices. There have been 72.1 million games sold in North America year to date 2007, compared to 71.2 million up to this point in 2006.
[UPDATE: We caught up with the NPD's Anita Frazier following the announcement to quiz her further on August's just debuted results.
When asked to summarize overall trends, Frazier commented of the game industry's performance for the month: "The industry continues to set a scorching sales pace across all categories. Hardware acquisition is driving a lot of the growth, but we're now poised to see software sales take off, and you really saw that this month with the Madden release."
When asked whether Electronic Arts would be happy with this year's roll-out of the Madden franchise, and whether it was indeed the largest debut ever for the game series, Frazier noted: "The [Madden] 08 release has set a new sales record for any Madden release in its introductory month. So I would say it made a great splash."
Also notable this month was the lack of Nintendo DS games in the Top 10. We wondered if that augured anything in particular, but Frazier thinks not: "These things come and go, and software sales are so hit-driven. This month it happened to be Madden and Bioshock, but some "older" Wii titles still captured 4 of the top 10 spots. So we'll see more DS games in the Top 10 [in subsequent months]."
Finally, and most notably, we asked whether Sony's PlayStation 3 sales performance should be worrying them, and what their tactics on it should be. Frazier was frank in her reply, saying that the situation is "...concerning, and the window for [Sony] turning the story around is certainly getting narrower."]