[Gamasutra's latest analysis of NPD's U.S. console retail figures examines June's 31% sales slump in the context of the recent past, including exclusive data on the top-selling games of the year so far, music game trend analysis, and a look forward to the rest of the year.]
As if defying the pull of the worldwide recession, the videogame market experienced remarkable expansion throughout practically all of 2008. With annual revenue growing more than 18% in the United States, many observers felt that videogames were living up to their label of “recession-proof”.
Then in 2009 the industry slowed, posting a year-over-year loss in March and continuing through the middle of the year. June 2009 marked the fourth straight month of contraction, according to the latest figures from the NPD Group, which tracks the retail market in the U.S.
By many key measures – hardware sales, software prices, accessory sales, total revenue – the industry has seen dramatic decreases throughout the second quarter.
Below we'll survey some of these measures, and turn up a few choice bits of good news along the way. Be sure to check out our survey of the music game market in the first half of 2009, the year-to-date top 5 games on the current generation consoles, and an overview software unit sales since 2007.
The top-line figures for June 2009 showed losses in each of the main categories for which the NPD Group provides data.
Hardware revenue for the month was only $382.6 million, down $234.7 million or 38% from the same period last year. Software dropped to $625.8 million, a decrease of $250 million or 29%. The accessory segment was hit least of all, dropping only 22% from last June.
The table below summarizes the major category data for the month of June and for the industry so far in 2009.
It is key to understand that the industry could probably never have sustained the kind of growth it experienced beginning in the second half of 2006, continuing through the end of 2008. From that perspective, the revenues being seen in 2009 could be the result of a correction in the market which will lay the foundation for more modest, healthy increases over the next year.
The following figure provides a clear illustration of the rates of growth that the industry has produced in the past 30 months.
Analysts currently expect the market to return to positive growth in the latter half of 2009, probably in August, but in terms of annual revenue, much damage has already been done.