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U.S. retail sales continue to decline as new releases roll in

U.S. retail sales continue to decline as new releases roll in
October 11, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

October 11, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

The U.S. retail game market has seen continuing declines throughout 2012, thanks to an ever-expanding digital market and a noted lack of new releases. While a number of new titles in September helped alleviate that retail game drought, the market is still seeing declines as we inch closer to the holiday season.

Major games like Madden NFL 13, Borderlands 2, and FIFA Soccer 13 all saw healthy sales when they debuted in September, but compared to last year, the retail industry is struggling to keep up. Looking at the retail game space overall (including hardware), the NPD Group reports that sales reached $848.3 million for the month, marking a 24 percent decline compared to September 2011.

Factoring in used sales, rentals, and digital sales, however, the firm estimates that the total consumer spend on games was just under $1.6 billion.


Despite a number of successful new releases, software sales in September fell 14 percent to $547.3 million. NPD reports that this decline is largely due to weak comparisons to Gears of War 3 and Dead Island from last year.

Madden, Borderlands 2, and FIFA all led the software charts for the month, and new MMO titles like Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria also found their way into the top 10.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 -- which debuted in August -- also held a spot on the charts, and Nintendo says the 3DS platformer sold 295,000 in its second month. Overall, the publisher said that 3DS software sales have increased 89 percent year over year, which it attributes to the new XL model that launched in August.

The top ten best selling games at retail for September were as follows:

1. Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita - EA)
2. Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC - Take-Two)
3. FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, PSP - EA)
4. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS - Nintendo)
5. Guild Wars 2 (PC - NCsoft)
6. NHL 13 (Xbox 360, PS3 - EA)
7. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC - Activision)
8. NCAA Football 13 (Xbox 360, PS3 - EA)
9. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Wii, Xbox 360, DS, PS3, 3DS, PS Vita, PC - Warner Bros.)
10. Battlefield 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC - EA)

Looking at the month's top software releases, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said Madden NFL 13 "sold 11 percent more units in its debut month than the previous Madden last year. Not only was this an improvement over last year, but the launch of Madden NFL 13 represented the best month one performance at retail for a Madden title ever."

Borderlands 2, meanwhile, saw its first month sales increase 234 percent compared to its October 2009 predecessor.


Hardware suffered even more than software this month, as this category saw sales drop a full 39 percent to $210.9 million. Much of this decline, however, can be attributed to the aging home consoles, and Callahan said, "Hardware sales are up on an average sales per week basis compared to August for the NDS, 3DS, PS3, Vita and 360, which points to momentum heading into the holiday season."

The top selling console for the month was the Xbox 360, which Microsoft says sold 270,000 units. Of the three current home consoles, the Xbox 360 has been the number one seller for 21 consecutive months.

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