Six percent software revenue growth at retail was one of the few spots of positivity in October's NPD results -- and yet it's less than half of what some analysts, like Cowen and Company's Doug Creutz, were expecting to see.
According to Creutz, it's "weak follow-through" for key September releases Halo: Reach and NHL 11 that helped create the disappointing results, alongside a below-expectations performance for Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor -- that title sold just over 1 million units during the month, roughly half a million below Creutz's expectations.
The analyst says Activision's DJ Hero 2 sold 59,000 units during the month, a "disappointing" launch, while Tony Hawk: Shred was a "virtual no-show" with only 3,000 units sold -- although it did debut only on October 26th. Overall, Activision saw sales down 28 percent year over year, according to Creutz.
Even with disappointments for NHL 11 and Medal of Honor, EA's software sales grew 17 percent year over year in October. EA Sports MMA sold 45,000 units, and the Madden NFL franchise is down 18 percent year over year.
THQ saw the biggest year-over-year plunge, down 36 percent on a tough comparison for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw, although as Creutz notes, last year's title saw 12 days of sales during the month versus only five this year.
Publisher Take-Two's titles are seeing strong performance, however: NBA 2K11 sold 1.15 million units in October, twice what the previous installment did last year. Creutz indicates this is, "most impressively, 60 percent more than last October's combined sales for NBA 2K10 and NBA Live 10."
Looking to November, Creutz expects a high single-digit decline for software sales, with much of the growth burden resting on the shoulders of Call of Duty: Black Ops. "Our November estimate assumes a high-single digit decline for Call of Duty: Black Ops vs. Modern Warfare 2," he says. "We believe Black Ops continues to trend above last year, but the key Thanksgiving shopping period remains ahead."