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September NPD: Borderlands 2 nearly tops best-seller list as overall sales take another dive

The NPD numbers are in, and despite the beginning of blockbuster season, it was another down month for the video game industry.

The NPD Group, a financial analysis firm, tracks retail sales for the gaming industry each month, which makes it easier to keep tabs on the financial health of the people making games and gaming hardware. September’s diagnosis? This generation is breaking down with old age.

Hardware, software, and accessory sales were all down in year-over-year comparisons, but before we break down the numbers, let’s take a look at the top 10 best-selling games for September 2012:

  1. Madden NFL 13: EA (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita)
  2. Borderlands 2: 2K Games (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  3. FIFA Soccer 13: EA (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSP)
  4. New Super Mario Bros. 2: 295,000 — Nintendo (3DS)
  5. Guild Wars 2: NCsoft (PC)
  6. NHL 13: EA (Xbox 360, PS3)
  7. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria: Activision Blizzard (PC)
  8. NCAA Football 13: EA (Xbox 360, PS3)
  9. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes: Warner Bros. Interactive (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, 3DS, PS Vita, PC)
  10. Battlefield 3: EA (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Borderlands 2 nearly topped the list despite only having 11 days in retail compared to Madden’s full month. According to the NPD, Borderlands 2’s first-month sales outsold the original Borderlands, which launched in October 2009, by 234 percent.

Electronic Arts has four of its major licensed sports games all at or near the top of this list. EA published half of the 10 best-selling games in September. For years, we’ve grown accustomed to finding the most recent Call of Duty hanging around among the new releases, but EA’s Battlefield 3 seems to have stepped into that position.

“Madden NFL 13 launched on Tuesday, Aug. 28, and sold 11 percent more units in its debut month than the previous Madden last year,” Callahan said. “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.”

One last note about this list, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria couldn’t crack the top five, but the NPD Group does only track physical copies sold, and Blizzard sold the majority of this expansion through its digital channel.

The industry as a whole is down 24 percent from 2011, $1.11 billion in sales down to $848.3 million. New console sales took a 39 percent hit from $346.7 million down to $210.9 million. Hardware has reached a saturation point in which this current generation simply can’t do much more damage. Software and accessories were down 18 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

“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,” Callahan said. “In mid-September, Nintendo revealed launch details regarding the Wii U. The new console will launch on Nov. 18 and has the potential to reinvigorate retail sales of hardware.”

Nintendo, is phasing out the Wii console phasing out in favor of its upcoming Wii U in November, pointed toward an 89 percent increase in 3DS software sales compared to September 2011.

“Nintendo 3DS XL continues to galvanize our Nintendo 3DS business,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Hardware sales are up, software sales are increasing exponentially, and the attach rate is growing stronger every month. With a great slate of upcoming games, including Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which arrives exactly one month from today, we like our position heading into the crucial holiday selling season.”

Nintendo also announced that Super Mario 64 DS became the third DS game to sell more than 5 million units in the U.S. It joins New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart DS which sold 10.6 million and 8.5 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, Microsoft released a statement saying the Xbox 360 sold 270,000 units in September, making it the best-selling “current-generation console” for 19 consecutive months. Consumer spending on Microsoft’s device remained high as well. The publisher bragged that total retail spending on its Xbox 360 platform surpassed $380 million, which is more than the PlayStation 3 and Wii combined.