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NPD: U.S. Console Biz Sees 29% Drop In July 2009
NPD: U.S. Console Biz Sees 29% Drop In July 2009
August 13, 2009 | By Christian Nutt

August 13, 2009 | By Christian Nutt
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NPD's July 2009 U.S. game industry sales have revealed a 29% overall revenue drop to $849 million, with DS and Wii Sports Resort leading hardware/game sales, as NPD analyst Anita Frazier says that "the worst comps should be behind us."

Overall, U.S. video game software sales declined 26 percent to $437 million year-over-year for the month of July 2009. This continues a poor recent run: June showed a 31 percent year-over-year decline; May, 23 percent; April, 17 percent; March, 17 percent. Sales were last up, year on year, in February 2009, on the back of unexpectedly and unseasonably strong sales of Street Fighter IV and perennial favorite Wii Fit.

Software is overall down 14% year-to-date, at $4.23 billion. The same holds true of overall console game, accessory, and hardware sales: they are also down 14%, taken as a whole, standing at $8.16 billion so far.

In the face of these statistics, overall industry growth in 2009 will be tough, warns Frazier: "In order for the industry to come in flat or slightly up for the total year, the back five months of the year have to come in 11% (or more) higher than the last five months of last year."

However, she sees some possibility of just that, with major titles likely to spur major sales, commenting:

"There are some big titles set to be released over the next several months, including Madden this month, which should help spur sales. The worst comps should be behind us, and looking beyond August we have The Beatles: Rock Band, Halo 3: ODST, and of course, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to look forward to."

Hardware Slows

Regarding U.S. console numbers in the U.S., as surveyed by NPD, "Hardware sales have slowed considerably on nearly every platform," says Frazier.

The patterns observed over the year continue to hold true for July. Frazier says, "The Xbox 360 is the only console system showing a unit sales increase year-to-date, while the Nintendo DS has the highest sales of all hardware platforms both for the month, and year-to-date."

Overall, U.S. game hardware for July is down 37 percent year-on-year for July, at $280.94 million. Year-to-date, hardware sales have hit $2.79 billion, down 16 percent overall.

Hardware sales across all platforms in the U.S. for July 2009 are as follows:

Nintendo DS: 538,900
Nintendo Wii: 252,500
Microsoft Xbox 360: 202,900
Sony PSP: 122,800
Sony PlayStation 3: 121,800
Sony PlayStation 2: 108,000

As a comparison point, all hardware platforms declined in sales from June 2009.

The PlayStation 3's sales are directly comparable to its October 2007 performance; the 40GB unit was introduced in November 2007 and spurred sales. Analysts are expecting console price drops soon, and rumors of a slim PlayStation 3 system continue.

Software: EA and Nintendo Rule

As for game sales, Electronic Arts and Nintendo were the only two companies to get SKUs into the top 10 chart this month; Wii Sports Resort, which debuted this month with a bundled MotionPlus controller, was the number one title. EA's NCAA Football 10, another newcomer, also performed strongly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The chart is otherwise on the predictable side, primarily stacked with perennially popular Wii and DS titles. However, EA continues to find success with EA Sports Active for the Wii, showing its approach to fitness gaming on the platform does resonate with consumers.

The full U.S. console game charts for July 2009 are as follows:

1. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo), Wii, 508,200
2. NCAA Football 10 (Electronic Arts/EA Tiburon), Xbox 360, 376,500
3. NCAA Football 10 (Electronic Arts/EA Tiburon), PlayStation 3, 237,400
4. Wii Fit (Nintendo), Wii, 164,300
5. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Wii, 156,600
6. Mario Kart DS (Nintendo), Nintendo DS, 132,200
7. Pokemon: Platinum Version (Nintendo/Game Freak), Nintendo DS, 116,400
8. Fight Night Round 4 (Electronic Arts/EA Canada), Xbox 360, 116,400
9. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo), Nintendo DS, 101,800
10. EA Sports Active (Electronic Arts/EA Canada), Wii, 96,800

Says Frazier, "NCAA Football 10 was the top selling game for the month, with combined sales of 689K units across all platforms." Meanwhile, she also notes, "Wii Sports Resort was the top-selling software SKU for the month with 508K units sold with a 2.5% attach rate to the hardware install base." Frazier suggests this may imply much future potential for sales.

While The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 are both yet to debut, Frazier also reveals that the genre may be in trouble. "Of all genres, the music/dance genre has suffered the greatest declines this year, with nearly $390 million less revenues than the same time period last year."

Though retail music games are indeed on the decline, with digital revenues of both console downloads and PC online game subscriptions and microtransactions not counted in the NPD charts, it's difficult to divine the overall health of the video game market from this NPD report alone.


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