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To show a month of year-over-year growth in unit sales, the industry will have to sell approximately 34 million units of software during November, at physical retail. At that level prices must remain above $43 per unit to show growth in revenue. Those are stiff requirements, but the October results suggest that there is pent-up demand and that American consumers – urged on by retail promotions and alluring new games – will rise to the challenge.
In the hardware segment, total revenue was up with the Xbox 360 leading the industry at 393,000 systems for the month. Nintendo's Wii and 3DS and Sony's PlayStation 3 had sales of around 250,000 units for the month while the Nintendo DS fell to around 180,000 units. For the DS, that's the weakest October showing since October 2005, the 12th month of its first full year on the American market.
The hardware segment also showed its second monthly year-over-year increase in unit sales, the only other such month coming in April.
Finally, we note that the accessory segment has now had six straight months of year-over-year declines. Starting around the end of 2009 – far removed from the launch of Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's Move – the accessory segment began a growth spurt that finally ended in March of this year. Regrettably, the accessory segment is the most opaque to us, as the NPD Group provides very little in the way of additional data, and so we cannot even begin to speculate with what drove that long 17 months of growth and what then changed in March to bring on the contraction of accessory sales. Anita Frazier of the NPD Group did remark that “the accessory types that declined the most were Gamepads and Specialty Controllers.”
Below are the current monthly and year-to-date revenue figures showing where the industry stands.
The NPD Group highlights to the media that the data above represent retail revenue figures, and that there are separate estimates for video game content sold through other means. They are providing quarterly estimates of those extra-retail sales, including mobile games, downloadable content, and casual games, along with other segments. Our latest analysis of the full market figures released by the NPD Group was given in last month's article.
For historical perspective on where the industry stands relative to the past six years of retail video game sales, the following graph shows annual revenue from 2005 to the present, subdivided by monthly revenue segments.
In terms of total retail revenue, the U.S. video game industry is precisely $400 million behind the same point in 2007. However, it should be noted that 2007 included a so-called leap week in January, so the revenue figures are slightly different. To be precise, at this point in 2007 the industry had recorded $10.5 billion in revenue over 44 weeks while in 2011 the industry has recorded $10.1 billion over 43 weeks.