The total amount that consumers spent on games in the third quarter was $4.2 billion, down 11 percent from the same period a year ago, according to market research NPD Group.

That number includes the money spent by consumers on hardware, content, and accessories. Sales of console and PC games purchased at retail stores amounted to $1.3 billion. Other game-related income categories  — including sales of used games, game rentals, online subscriptions, downloads of full digital games, social network games, downloadable add-on content and mobile games — added up to $1.64 billion.

“New physical retail sales had a rough third quarter,” said Anita Frazier, an analyst at NPD, in statement. “Increases in sales from some of these other monetization methods, and full game and add-on digital downloads in particular, only partially offset the decline seen in the new physical retail channel.”

She added, “We are already seeing some dynamic changes in the marketplace in Q4 and we are seeing interesting geographic differences from the expansion of our coverage in the UK, France and Germany. Q4 2012 results from both the U.S. and Europe will be issued in March, 2012.”

The quarterly report from NPD comes out later than its monthly U.S. game sales reports, but it has the added benefit of a fuller description of overall game sales because it includes digital game sales and used games and rentals. The third quarter was a particularly weak season for the release of new blockbuster video games for the consoles.

[image credit: ETF Trends]