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NPD: U.S. Game Market Declines 8% In 2009
NPD: U.S. Game Market Declines 8% In 2009
January 14, 2010 | By Chris Remo

January 14, 2010 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

After a rough financial year for the industry, tracking firm NPD reported today that the U.S. retail console game industry generated $19.66 billion in revenue in 2009, down 8 percent from the record $21.4 billion in 2008.

The group also revealed that December was the industry's best sales month ever after beating December 2008's revenue by 4 percent.

"Clearly, 2009 was a tough year for consumers and the national economy. However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry’s strength; 2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry’s history," said Entertainment Software Association president Michael D. Gallagher in a statement released alongside the NPD result.

"Our industry's structure is solid, and I anticipate a strong 2010 with a pipeline full of highly-anticipated titles," he added.

Every segment of the industry declined in 2009, with the sole exception of portable hardware, whose revenue increased 6 percent year-over-year. Console hardware was down 13 percent, console software was down 10 percent, and portable software was down 10 percent.

Still, as the current console generation settles into maturity, NPD analyst Anita Frazier looks forward to a stronger 2010.

"Hopefully, the big increase in the overall install base of hardware systems will bring good things for software sales in 2010," she wrote, "especially with the incredible line-up of content coming out early in the year."


NPD released a full-year list of the top ten U.S retail console games by units, a list heavily dominated by Nintendo. The publisher was responsible for seven of the top ten titles for the year, six of which were released for Wii.

But the year-end number one seller was the Xbox 360 version of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, whose PlayStation 3 counterpart also made the list at number 8.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has become the fourth best-selling game of all time. In fact, 3 of the top 10 games of all time are Call of Duty games," Frazier pointed out.

The list of the top-selling U.S. game console retail titles in 2009 is as follows:

1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward, Activision), Xbox 360
2. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo), Wii
3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo), Wii
4. Wii Fit (Nintendo), Wii
5. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo), Wii
6. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Wii
7. Wii Play (Nintendo), Wii
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward, Activision), PlayStation 3
9. Halo 3: ODST (Bungie, Microsoft), Xbox 360
10. Pokemon Platinum Version (Nintendo), NDS

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Thomas Lo
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Nintendo as market leader. They win, the market loses.

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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Fiore Iantosca
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Saturation + bad economy = lower #s than last year

Mark Harris
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They split it up initially so you can get a quick glimpse of different conclusions, with some details in each. There will be the usual "Inside the NPD" article soon with overall analysis and a bit more depth.

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It seems that Nintendo can split their market and take more slots year on end, but Sony and Microsoft have trouble doing that and so they end up only taking one slot each. Also all of the top games are in house Nintendo while the one game on the list for both Sony and Microsoft is out of house. Third Parties complain that they can't get success on the Wii, but it looks like they can't get success on any system, unless your name is Activision, you own a company called Infinity Ward, and you make a Game called Call of Duty. What surprises me the most about this list is how Mario Kart is still on it.

Thomas Lo
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Success is not about being number 1 or marketshare. That is the kind of one-dimensional thinking that drove companies like AIG and GM into the ground. It's about profitability.

Third parties are not PROFITABLE on the Wii which is rather amazing since the Wii costs as much as the PSP/PS2 to develop for. The Wii software scale is very top heavy with very little mid-line successes. PS3 and 360 have plenty of profitable mid-tier games that sell in the few hundred k category.

This is a gaming developer website, you should be worry about your company making enough of releases to pay for your salary next year, not about whether it is number 1.

Nintendo's me-first strategy is not conducive to third-parties. Game devlopers need to pray and hope the 360 and PS3 see some big growth next year so that they can have larger install bases for the audience of customers that actually buy more than 2 games a year.

Leon T
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Thomas where do you get your data from? Third parties Do MAKE A PROFIT on the Wii. Nintendo games sell better and longer but there are more third party million sellers than there are frist party.

I don't know how you get that the Wii does not have many profitable mid-teir games that sell a few hundred k. The problem really is that game sites such as this one call those games a failuer even when the publisher does not.

Your view of the market is the problem because many in the industry share it.

gstarr W
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@ Thomas Apparently the Wii audience does by "more than 2 games a year". Software sale were down this December, while console sales were up. Nintendo had a fabulously showing, so I presume that loss was on other systems (360 maybe?). Anyone wanna place bets on how many Nintendo titles place in the top 10 AGAIN next year? Wii fit? NSMBW? Wii-play? Mariokart? Sports Resort? Wii-vitality(or whatever new thing the big N has up its's sleeve)?

gstarr W
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@ everyone - forgive my typing!! That should read "buy" not "by" and "software sales" not "software sale".