Video game sales drop 6 percent in September

U.S. retail video game sales can’t seem to get out of their summer funk. In September, the trend continued as overall retail game sales fell 6 percent from a year ago, according to market researcher NPD Group.

That comes after a 23 percent drop in August, a 26 percent drop in July and a 10 percent drop in June, NPD reported.

The month was lower than a year ago even though big titles such as Madden NFL, Resistance 3, and Gears of War 3 came out during the month. Of course, the numbers are only retail sales and don’t count other digital sales. Those other sales – including used games, rentals, online games, mobile games and social games — show constant growth.

Total video game hardware, software, and accessory sales at retail stores were $1.16 billion million in September, down 6 percent from $1.23 billion a year ago. Overall console video game sales (excluding PC games) were $1.13 billion, down 4 percent from $1.18 billion a year ago.

Game hardware sales were $349 million, down 9 percent from $382.9 million a year ago. While that is weak, hardware sales were up from August levels of $249.4 million. Game software sales were $630.2 million, up 3 percent from $612.1 million a year ago. That was much better than game sales during August. Accessory sales, which in earlier months this year were up thanks to strong sales of Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing system, were $154.8 million, down 14 percent $180.8 million a year ago.

If you throw in the sales of PC, console and portable games, the total is $662.1 million, down 1 percent from $653.2 million a year ago. That still means PC sales have been weak.

Last year saw continuing strong sales of RockStar Games’ Red Dead Redemption, while this year RockStar (which is owned by Take-Two Interactive) released the highly acclaimed LA Noire detective game in May and it didn’t sell so well. The bright spots of the month were some of the big new releases.

Madden NFL 12 from Electronic Arts came in at No. 1. The cross-platform title started selling Aug. 30, later than usual, and it eclipsed the No. 2 game, Gears of War 3, which debuted Sept. 20 and was available only on the Xbox 360.

The third top-selling game was Dead Island from Square Enix. That was followed by FIFA Soccer 12 from EA, NHL 12 from EA, Deus Ex Human Revolution from Square Enix, Resistance 3 from Sony, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars from LucasArts, Call of Duty Black Ops from Activision Blizzard, and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine from THQ.

In its own announcement, Nintendo said its DS handheld has now sold more than 50 million units in the U.S. since 2004, according to NPD. The company also said it sold more than 260,000 Nintendo 3DS portable gaming units, up 10 percent from the previous month. Nintendo has now sold more than 450,000 units since it cut the price on the 3DS on Aug. 12.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D has sold more than 500,000 units to date. Nintendo sold more than 647,000 hardware units in September, including 240,000 Wii systems and 145,000 other units of the DS family. To date, Nintendo has sold 273 million units for the Nintendo DS family.

Microsoft said its Kinect platform now has 75 titles supporting it as an accessory for the Xbox 360 game console. That’s four times more than last holiday season when it launched. Microsoft sold 438,000 Xbox 360 consoles, coming it at No. 1 among the next-generation consoles. That was 42 percent of the overall console market in the U.S. Microsoft said it was the seventh consecutive month with more than 40 percent of the console market.

Total U.S. retail spending on the Xbox 360 hardware, software and accesssories reached $534 million. Gears of War 3 has now sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. Overall sales for Gears of War are now above $1 billion.

Sony said its software sales grew 52 percent from a year ago and hardware sales grew 20 percent.

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