[Gamasutra's latest comprehensive NPD analysis looks at the U.S. console retail figures for September 2009, with spotlights on the music game genre, hardware price cuts, Wii, console DLC and more.]
After months of double-digit declines, the U.S. videogame industry appears to have begun a turnaround in September 2009. The latest American retail figures, released on Monday by the NPD Group, showed that total videogame sales were up a modest 1% in September relative to the same period a year earlier.
While analysts had expected revenues to be somewhat stronger, even a flat market is preferable to the declines of the last half-year.
Software was the key driver of revenue for the month, with revenue up 5% from September 2008. Accessory sales were also up over the year prior, but hardware revenue was down over 5% from a combination of fewer hardware units sold and lower prices on hardware generally.
In the text below we'll explore many intriguing aspects of last month's sales, including an in-depth look at the launch of Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band. Further along, we'll examine the impact of the hardware price cuts for each of the three current generation consoles.
We'll also show some evidence that Wii software sales are somewhat weaker in 2009 than they were in 2008, and compare with the latest software sales figures for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Finally, we'll finish with an estimate of how map pack DLC revenues have increased the average sale price of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Call of Duty: World at War.
The September 2009 showdown between The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 is perhaps the most direct competition between the two franchises the industry has yet experienced. The Harmonix-developed Beatles game launched on September 9th while the fifth major installment of the Guitar Hero franchise hit stores eight days earlier on the first of the month.
At the end of the NPD Group reporting period for September (which ended on Saturday, October 3rd) the final tally showed a decisive win for The Beatles: Rock Band in both units of software sold and dollars of revenue.
The Beatles moved a strong 595,000 software-only and instrument-bundled units across three platforms. The Xbox 360 versions accounted for 43% of those units while 35% and 22% were sold to Wii and PlayStation 3 owners, respectively.
According to figures provided by Mr. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities and Ms. Anita Frazier of the NPD Group, the average price of a copy of The Beatles during this period was approximately $100. Total revenue for the title was around $59-$60 million or more than 9% of all software revenue for the month.