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NPD: Game Industry Sees 16% Drop In Sixth Month Of Declines
NPD: Game Industry Sees 16% Drop In Sixth Month Of Declines
September 10, 2009 | By Chris Remo

September 10, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

As expected, the U.S. console retail business saw its sixth straight month of year-over-year sales drops this August, with tracking firm NPD reporting a 16 percent decline to $908.72 million in revenue in August 2008.

Although numerous analysts expect the remainder of 2009 to see more positive sales figures on the back of strong upcoming titles, NPD's Anita Frazier cautioned against undue optimism for the year as a whole, noting that "the back four months of the year would have to be up 14% in aggregate for 2009 to come in flat in comparison to 2008 sales."

Hardware sales dropped more than average, down 25 percent to $297.6 million, but they at least seem to be improving on a month-to-month basis, likely in part due to price cuts from Microsoft and Sony, which took effect during the reporting period.

All current-generation consoles saw unit sales increases over July, with PlayStation 3 up 72 percent over the prior month, with a mid-month price cut to all models and PS3 Slims entering the retail channel during the month. The Xbox 360 Elite and Pro also cut their price on August 28th.

The fuller force of the recent price cuts is likely to be seen in NPD's September results, since the PS3 Slim had an official release date of September 1st and the Xbox 360 had very little time to build sales -- thus, the moves will have had a full reporting period's worth of impact.

Software sales were down 15 percent year-over-year to $470.3 million -- although PlayStation 3 bucked that trend to become the only platform with an overall software gain.

Hardware Sales

Despite the pricing shake-up, the actual order of console sales was almost unchanged from July's results, the only difference being the position swapping of PlayStation 3 and PSP.

The full list of U.S. console retail hardware sales numbers for August 2009 is as follows:

Nintendo DS: 552,900
Wii: 277,400
Xbox 360: 215,400
PlayStation 3: 210,000
PlayStation Portable: 140,300
PlayStation 2: 105,900

But within that familiar lineup, Wii was down a significant 39 percent year-over-year, while PlayStation 3 was up 13 percent year-over-year and Xbox 360 was up 10 percent.

NPD analyst Frazier pointed out that, even with its declines, Nintendo's Wii is hardly selling at unhealthy levels compared to the other consoles and historical data.

"There is a lot of speculation about Wii and whether Nintendo will take a price cut as sales comps to last year show declines," she wrote. "I do think it's interesting to note that the Wii is still selling at levels comparable to what the PS2 was doing at about this point in its lifecycle."

Software Sales

The Electronic Arts-published, EA Tiburon-developed Madden NFL 10 was, unsurprisingly, the big winner for August, with three versions in the top ten. But while the PlayStation 2 version sold well enough to chart, the Wii and PSP games did not.

NPD noted that Madden sold nearly 1.9 million units across all platforms, leaving 147,000 units between Wii and PSP. Furthermore, based on sales of the tenth-place Fossil Fighters, neither version could individually have sold more than 92,000 units. [UPDATE: Biz site Industrygamers confirmed that the Wii version of Madden sold 67,000 units, meaning that the PSP version seems to have outsold it, with around 80,000 units sold.]

Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum also debuted with its two console versions in fairly close proximity, Xbox 360 leading by only 13,000 units. The full Top 10 list for retail console games for August 2009 in the U.S. is:

1. Madden NFL 10 (EA Tiburon), Xbox 360 - 928,000
2. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo), Wii - 754,000
3. Madden NFL 10 (EA Tiburon), PS3 - 665,000
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady, Eidos/Square Enix), Xbox 360 - 303,000
5. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady, Eidos/Square Enix), PS3 - 290,000
6. Madden NFL 10 (EA Tiburon), PS2 - 160,000
7. Dissidia: Final Fantasy (Square Enix), PSP - 130,000
8. Wii Fit (Nintendo), Wii - 128,000
9. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Wii - 120,000
10. Fossil Fighters (Red Entertainment, Nintendo), NDS - 92,000

Overall, Nintendo published four of the top ten retail games in the U.S. in August 2009, Electronic Arts published three, and Square Enix published three, thanks partly to its recent acquisition of Batman: Arkham Asylum publisher Eidos.

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Kevin Jones
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Year on Year, Aug 2008 to Aug 2009:

PS3 + 15%

360 +10%

Wii - 39%

The Wii continued it's big year on year drops in monthly sales like it has been doing for the past few months.

Weekly month on month(July 2009 to August 2009)

PS3 +71%

Wii +10%

360 + 6%

It seems the earlier price cut of the PS3 phat on 18th August, put a rocket under PS3 weekly sales, enough to send the average weekly PS3 sales for August up by a pretty impressive 73% between July and August.

The Wii managed to experience a small 10% increase in weekly sales from July to August probably due to the small hardware bump it got from Wii Sports Resort.

The 360 got a 6% increase in average weekly sales from July to August from the price cut of the Elite on August 28th, giving it 2 days of sales at the new lower price.

Tyler Peters
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We'll see of the 360 and PS3 price cuts invoke higher software sales in September, but I doubt it will be that significant. Those hardware sales will help the big boys - MW2, AC2, etc come NOvember.

Kevin Jones
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@ Tyler Peters

You forget one little game called ODST(360) in September.

ODST is going to blow everything out of the water in September NPD, outselling all versions of Guitar Hero 5 on all platforms combined, and probably outselling all versions of Beatles Rockband combined as well..

Leon T
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The Wii went up 10% without a price cut or a hardware change, but still is down yoy. Although down about 40% yoy the Wii still outsells the HD systems.

The PS3 has also been down yoy, but unlike the Wii the ps3 is not selling at the rate of the ps2. Sony better hope that the price cut and slim release leads to higher sales month to month instead of a bumb for two months.

The 360 continues its yoy sales streak. All hardware sales are pretty good this month. I would be amazed is Nintendo

Leon T
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I also want to add the the industry is down because Nintendo was the only one hold it up. Those Wii sales from last year did not carry over to another console. If the DS falls to normal levels then the industry will be down even more.

PS3 sales should be pretty high next month with the slim launch and price cut. 360 should be up a little more due to a price cut. Lets see if they can pick of the slack that the Wii left.