June was no better as software sales dipped 10 percent year-over-year.
As gloomy as these figures appear, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz says June software actually performed better than expected.
“Sony’s acclaimed title [The Last of Us] delivered a few hundred thousand units of upside to our 700,000 estimate,” Creutz writes in a note to investors. “Mojang’s boxed version of Minecraft for the Xbox 360 also delivered surprisingly strong sales given that it has been available digitally for over a year. These two titles accounted for the bulk of the upside versus our overall sales estimate.”
Creutz expects software sales to start increasing in year-over-year comparisons beginning in August.
“We expect significantly negative comparisons to persist in July,” he writes. “However, at that point we expect several consecutive months of positive comparisons.”
Why? Well, because big games are heading this way. Madden NFL 25 is due out in August. In 2012, Madden NFL 13 didn’t hit until September. That should boost the total software sales for that month. And in September, Rockstar releases its next game: Grand Theft Auto V, one of the most anticipated works of 2013.
“The launch of Grand Theft Auto V in September should more than offset the move of Madden,” writes Creutz.
Publisher Take-Two Interactive, which owns Rockstar and GTA, expects GTA V to generate $600 million in revenue in its first quarter. As one of gaming’s biggest franchises, it has the power to boost total game sales nearly on its own, but it isn’t alone.
The rest of the year will see Battlefield 4 and Batman: Arkham Origins hit in October, and then Sony and Microsoft will start dropping their new consoles. Add in a much improved slate of games from Nintendo that includes a Zelda, a 3D Mario, and more, and the rest of 2013 looks like it might finally bring an end to those depressing NPD reports.
“Given the positive sentiment on next-gen consoles coming out of [the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in June] and a much fuller overall release slate than last year, we think that November and December could also wind up in positive territory,” writes Creutz. “The year as a whole [could] potentially squeak out a year-over-year gain. In general, we believe the fact that next-gen consoles appear poised for a good launch is far more important than current NPD trends.”