Analyst firm The NPD Group says that PC game sales dropped for U.S. retailers dropped to $701 million in 2008, down by 14 percent compared to the previous year.
U.S. PC game sales also saw a 6 percent drop in retail in 2007. PC game revenues in 2006, however, were up 1 percent to $970 million due to continued sales for titles like World Of Warcraft and The Sims 2, as well as the latter's various expansion packs.
While the PC game industry suffered falling retail sales in 2008, console software revenues grew by 26 percent during the same year to $10.96 billion, largely driven by Nintendo.
Notably, the firm's data does not account for micro-transactions, games purchased and downloaded online, or online subscriptions. NPD maintains a quarterly online game subscription tracking report specifically following those areas, and is expected to reveal more information on the PC games market next week, according to a report from GameDaily.
Specialty retailer GameStop's Merchandising SVP Bob McKenzie noted the decreased PC game retail sales to Gamasutra in September 2008, commenting, "We had planned for it to be down. Again, the number of new titles we have on PC is down probably more than what I had anticipated it would be down -- but I don't see that as a threat or a signaling, we're not backing away from it at all."
However, NPD's reports -- even the digital game-related ones -- do not track the significant growth from the PC casual download market, headed by firms such as Big Fish Games and PopCap.
In addition, the rise of services such as Valve's Steam, also not easily trackable in terms of revenues, make estimating PC game revenues even harder, along with the lack of transparency in PC online game subscription revenues. Overall, industry commentators indicate that it's quite likely -- although currently unquantifiable -- that PC game revenues are rising significantly.