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NPD Results, August 2010: Industry Down Ten Percent In Summer Doldrums
NPD Results, August 2010: Industry Down Ten Percent In Summer Doldrums
September 9, 2010 | By Kyle Orland

September 9, 2010 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

The NPD Group has announced its tracking results for new U.S. retail video game sales in August, showing overall revenues for the industry dropping ten percent compared to the same month last year.

Overall industry sales for the month were down $91.4 million from last year, to $818.9 million for the month. Hardware sales dropped five percent ($14.7 million) year-over-year to $282.9 million for the month, while software sales were down 14 percent ($67.7 million) to $403.5 million.

Video game accessory sales were down six percent, while sales of portable hardware and software were down sharply, seeing a 25 percent drop.

Year-to-date, 2010 continues to lag behind 2009, with overall industry sales currently sitting at $8.37 billion for the year, down eight percent ($720 million) from this point last year.

NPD Analyst Anita Frazier notes that this month's results are actually the weakest August results for the industry since this time in 2006, before the launch of the Wii and PS3. Still, Frazier sees a strong lineup of games and accessories like PlayStation Move and Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox driving overall new retail sales for the remainder of the year.

She expects that this will drive the industry to a point somewhere between $18.6 and $20 billion in sales by year's end. This would put the industry in a position relatively consistent with 2009's total new retail sales of $19.6 billion.


EA's annual football release, Madden NFL 11, dominated the sales charts for the month, easily taking the #1 and #2 slots for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, respectively. Frazier notes that sales for all five versions of the game combined were up "about six percent" from the August 2009 release of Madden NFL 10, which would place the game around 1.975 million combined sales for the month.

Nintendo's Mario games, both recent and more classic, had strong showings on the monthly sales charts. Super Mario Galaxy 2 rose to the third place position for the month from a #4 showing in July, while New Super Mario Bros. for the DS and New Super Mario Bros. Wii reappeared on the top-sellers list at #5 and #6, respectively.

Take 2 Interactive saw strong initial sales for crime simulator Mafia II, which appeared on the monthly sales list in fourth place on the Xbox 360 and seventh place on the PS3. Perennial top-sellers Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Wii Fit Plus also snuck onto this month's list in eighth and tenth place, respectively. July's top release, the Xbox 360 version of NCAA Football 11, rounded out August's top sellers at #9.

Sales of new, retail games in the U.S. for August are as follows:

1. Madden NFL 11 (Electronic Arts, 360) 920,800
2. Madden NFL 11 (Electronic Arts, PS3) 893,600
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, Wii) 124,600
4. Mafia II (Take 2 Interactive, 360) 121,600
5. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, DS) 110,400
6. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo, Wii)
7. Mafia II (Take 2 Interactive, PS3)
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision Blizzard, 360)
9. NCAA Football 11 (Electronic Arts, 360)
10. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo, Wii)

Crackdown 2, which debuted at #3 in the July rankings, dropped off the top ten sellers entirely in August, while both the Wii and Nintendo DS versions of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 also dropped off the list from #5 and #7 positions in July, respectively. However, Frazier notes that, when various versions of different games are taken together, LEGO Harry Potter still ranked in the top 5 releases for the month.

Frazier also notes that August's PC release of Starcraft II, which attracted over 300,000 retail sales, would have been the second-best selling game for the month if PC sales were included in their report. Even without taking into account digital downloads for the game, Starcraft II helped drive retail PC games sales up 35 percent over last August, Frazier said.


The Xbox 360 led overall hardware sales for the second month in a row and console sales for a third consecutive month in August, selling through 356,700 units.

Frazier notes that while month-to-month sales for the Xbox 360 were down, the Xbox 360 actually achieved significant year-over-year gains. Frazier was also optimistic that, "with Halo: Reach coming to market next week, if hardware sales react in a similar fashion to what was experienced when Halo 3 was launched in September 2007, September could be a huge sales month for Xbox 360 hardware."

Microsoft's console managed to handily beat out the Wii, which in August saw its lowest month of hardware sales since its launch in 2006, selling through only 244,300 units. Frazier expects this downward trend to reverse itself with family-friendly multiplayer releases like Nintendo's Wii Party and Disney's Guilty Party hitting the shelves in September.

The PlayStation 3, meanwhile, was the only system to actually see sales increase from July, selling 226,000 units in August, a five percent bump. Frazier notes that this is the 13th straight month that the PS3 has seen a year-over-year increase in sales, and that this momentum is spilling over into PS3 software and accessories as well.

Sales of portable systems were down from July, with the Nintendo DS selling 14 percent fewer systems (342,700 total) in August and the PSP selling five percent fewer systems (79,400 total) for the month

U.S. hardware sales for the month of August by units were as follows:

1. Xbox 360: 356,700
2: Nintendo DS: 342,700
3. Wii: 244,300
4. PlayStation 3: 226,000
5. PlayStation Portable: 79,400

[Gamasutra contributor and analyst Matt Matthews contributed to this report]

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Camilo R
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I think EA and Sony had some marketing partnership with EA titles such as Dead Space, Madden and so on. Quite similar to Activision and MS deal with CoD.

It's been a good year for the 360, I think 'Slim' consoles will become a standard, maybe Nintendo will be next.

E Zachary Knight
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I really don't know how you could get much "slimmer" than the current Wii system. It is already the smallest, quietest and coolest of the three systems. They have already released a new hardware bundle, Wii, Wii Remote, Motion+, Nunchuck, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. All this at a $200 price point. There is much more wiggle room. They could shave a little off the price or add another controller set, but there isn't really much that can be done about the actual system.

John Gordon
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Worst August since 2006. That is really pathetic. On the other hand a game released in 2006 somehow managed to snag the #5 spot. That is impressive, but I'm not sure why that happened.

Overall it's been a while since any real notable game has been released. I guess everyone is saving up their best stuff for the end of the year.

E Zachary Knight
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New Super Mario Brothers has been consistently in the Top 20 since its release. It is what some say is a game with legs. It is an example of what the industry as a whole should be working toward, not these fly by night Blockbusters that sell huge in the first 2 months and then disappear.

Leon T
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As I said before. Now that the Wii is selling at normal levels the HD consoles can't pick up the slack. The industry made its choice and declines will continue to happen.

I think gamers on the HD consoles will just buy big the biggest releases more and more leaving many other gamers to bomb. If you take a look back at the top 20 for the last few months you see it happening.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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These numbers are just terrible. The worst August in four years. Oh, well, at least Xbox owners get to feel happy, and September should be good for them, too. But can somebody tell Microsoft and Sony to come up with something other than cinematic and gun games? And maybe somebody should tell Nintendo to, I dunno...make some Wii games? Some good games, I mean?

Andrew Dobbs
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Please refer to E3 coverage for a humble list of awesome games coming to Wii. Not that I play any console games lately, but the quality is there this year. The drop in video game sales is not a content quality issue.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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Oh, I agree with you that the Wii lineup for the 4th quarter looks very good. I'm talking about this year. The last notable Nintendo release was Mario Galaxy 2, and when was that, May? It certainly has its fans, but 3D Mario frustrates and turns away as many gamers as it attracts. Since then, we've had Sin & Punishment 2, which was dreadful in so many ways (Panzer Dragoon Zwei beats it like a gong), and Metroid: Other M, which is just....ugh. I don't even want to think about it.

I'm looking forward to Wii Party (again, watch the gameplay videos on Youtube), Kirby, Donkey Kong Country, and Just Dance 2. Epic Mickey could be great. Goldeneye could be great. The Michael Jackson dance game is a wild card. That's about it. I have NO confidence in the next Zelda; Ounuma as ruined that series just as Sakamoto has ruined Metroid. We'll just get another weak, childish puzzle game with far too many cut-scenes and no action. And after that...???

Are these low sales numbers an indication of overall quality? I would have to argue "yes." Today's videogames suck. There have always been peaks and valleys over the years, but this is the worst I've seen since...dare I say it?....the worst since 1983. Game designers want to make movies. They want to be artists and movie directors and rock stars. It's all about them and their creative visions. Yuck.

Here's an excellent example, so you'll know where I'm coming from. Go to Youtube and watch gameplay videos of NiGHTS: Into Dreams and Christmas NiGHTS on Sega Saturn, and then watch gameplay videos of the NiGHTS sequel on Nintendo Wii. Compare and contrast. From my point-of-view, Saturn NiGHTS does everything right, the Wii sequel does everything wrong, and those faults are common dogma for today's games.

Anyway, that's my take on the matter. I hope I'm not too pessimistic; once you hit a certain age, everything becomes better 20 years ago.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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I wonder if this year marks a small return to the PC market. Now that I think of it, I own two consoles, but all the games I bought since spring were on PC. A part of the drop could be explained by Steam + Starcraft2.

Leon T
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I remember someone saying that gamers will run upmarket to PC games. Since console games have become dumb downed PC games.

Mike Lopez
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I think these negative NPD results in the last year is just the natural start of the demise of retail distribution. With the acceleration of downloadable games from the iTunes Store, XBLA and PSN and online Facebook game micro-transactions I am sure that the $67.6 Million software decline was more than made up for. Consumers have many more gaming options now and are choosing more and more to buy smaller games for less money and most of those smaller games are not reflected in NPD (which makes NPD now much less useful and less accurate a reflection of the gaming market IMOHO).

It's about time that publishers started acknowledging that the winds are changing even if it is news that their retailers do not want to hear. If publishers start reporting their numbers in DLC/Micro-trans/digi-downloads that show the industry in a much more positive/groth-related light and would change the way the analysts and Wall Street look at the gaming industry (transitioning in distribution vs. ailing in sales).