Despite the predictions of numerous analysts who predicted the U.S. video game industry would see at least modest sales growth in May, data from tracking firm NPD pegs the retail console business as down 5 percent year-over-year in May to $823.5 million.
Hardware took a big hit, with revenues falling to $241.5 million, a considerable 20 percent decline compared to last May. Software, which was expected to be May's strong point on the back of Red Dead Redemption and Super Mario Galaxy 2, was only up 4 percent to $466.3 million, with accessory revenue up 3 percent to $115.7 million.
Those new results put the industry down 10 percent on a year-to-date basis compared to 2009, with $5.56 billion in total earnings so far, with hardware down 20 percent and software down 6 percent.
Of course, everything is relative, as NPD analyst Anita Frazier points out. "Although down this month, May sales reflect the third best-selling May on record after May '08 and May '09," she wrote in a research note -- although this May's 5 percent decline comes after May 2009 had already seen its revenue drop 23 percent from $1.12 billion in 2008.
As far as platform comparisons, Frazier also noted that the Xbox 360 platform, including software and hardware overall, "contributed the greatest share of revenue to industry sales for the month, and year-to-date." Meanwhile, the PlayStation 3 platform has seen the most improvement on a year-to-date basis.
Rockstar San Diego's Red Dead Redemption was the clear success story of May, bringing in around 1.5 million units on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a considerable sales tilt towards Microsoft's console.
That game nearly tripled the sales of Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy 2, which managed 563,900 units on Wii, although Red Dead was on sale for several days longer in the month of May.
Meanwhile, Remedy's Alan Wake, which was released the same day as Red Dead, had a more disappointing debut, particularly considering its status as a major Microsoft exclusive. It came in at eighth place, although NPD no longer releases specific sales figures for titles beyond the top five.
And while Yuke's' UFC Undisputed 2010 was the third place game this month across all platforms, with 413,400 units sold for publisher THQ, it significantly underperformed compared to the debut of its 2009 predecessor, selling fewer than half the units that game did in its launch month.
1. Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar San Diego/Take-Two, Xbox 360), 945,900
2. Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar San Diego/Take-Two, PS3), 567,100
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, Wii), 563,900
4. UFC 2010: Undisputed (Yuke's/THQ, Xbox 360), 221,100
5. UFC 2010: Undisputed (Yuke's/THQ, PS3), 192,300
6. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo, Wii)
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo, Wii)
8. Alan Wake (Remedy/Microsoft, Xbox 360)
9. Pokemon SoulSilver Version (Game Freak/Nintendo, NDS)
10. Skate 3 (EA Canada/Electronic Arts, Xbox 360)
Hardware was the big loser for the month, dropping 20 percent from $303.0 million last May to $241.5 million this May. Nintendo platforms stood head and shoulders above the competition, with both Wii and Nintendo DS exceeding the 300,000 mark and no other system reaching 200,000.
The revenue decline isn't due to unit sales declining overall, however -- it's due to the overall aggregate price decreases.
"The portable hardware category contributed the most to the decline in hardware sales for the month, yet the NDS is the best-selling hardware system for May."
"Console hardware unit sales are, in fact, flat to last year. Declines in sales result from a lower average selling price this year compared to last," said Frazier.
1. Nintendo DS: 383,700
2. Wii: 334,800
3. Xbox 360: 194,600
4. PlayStation 3: 154,500
5. PSP: 59,400