The U.S. retail video game industry finally showed some life in October, as software sales grew nearly 6% according to the latest data released by the NPD Group on Tuesday. That made October 2010 only the third month during the past 12 in which software sales had increased year-over-year.
Regardless, there are still many areas in which the video game industry has suffered contraction during 2010, and it seems certain now that total industry sales will finish well below $19 billion for the year, a decrease from the $19.5 billion total in 2009.
In this month's examination of the latest data, we will look at just where the money has gone in the software market – from platforms to manufacturers – and also quantify the collapse of the music game market.
Then we will look at the pricing of the current consoles and follow up with some troubling observations about the Wii market in particular.
The good news about October 2010 was that software revenue saw a 5.6% year-over-year increase, while also seeing a 23% month-over-month increase (comparing average weekly rates).
This latter fact is particular laudable, because it shows that sales did not slow down after the huge launch of Halo: Reach during September.
The other bright spot was accessory sales, where 1600 points cards for the Xbox 360 continued to top the sales chart and Sony's Move controllers helped drive up revenue. The entire accessory segment is up nearly 4% for the year, and the addition of Microsoft Kinect accessories in the November data should continue that trend.
(We will mention again that Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect will be counted as part of hardware sales when they are packaged with a console and will be counted as an accessory when sold alone or with a bundled game.)
The table below shows the key figures for October 2010.
The NPD Group is now clearly labeling their media releases to indicate that the figures include only retail sales. On a quarterly basis they intend to provide estimates for extra-retail sales, including mobile games, downloadable content, and casual games, along with other segments.