While the new consoles have sold well since their November releases, new game sales have lagged behind. That’s going to continue, according to one industry observer.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is predicting that The NPD Group, which tracks sales of new games at U.S. retailers, will reveal that new software generated $435 million last month. That would represent a 42-percent drop in revenues from $754 million in a similar period in 2013. The biggest reason for that tough year-over-year comparison is that publisher Take-Two released its open-world blockbuster Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last year. And while developer Bungie’s sci-fi shooter Destiny got off to a great start, its sales are nothing compared to GTA V.
“Last September, Take-Two announced worldwide retail sell-through [sales to consumers] for [GTA V] of over $800 million on day one and over $1 billion for the first three days,” Pachter wrote in a note to investors. “[Those are] both industry records. This September’s biggest release, Activision Blizzard’s Destiny, had day one sell-in to retailers of over $500 million, a record for a new franchise, with sell-through to consumers of over $325 million in its first five days.”
The analyst notes that those are respectable numbers for Destiny, and he believes that GTA V had an advantage due to brand recognition and review scores, which are mixed for Destiny. Activision was likely able to overcome much of that thanks to a hefty marketing campaign. The company plastered the airwaves with hundreds of commercials.
“We estimate Destiny’s NPD unit sales figures for September will be 2.75 million units,” said Pacther. “That’s well below Grand Theft Auto V’s roughly 7 million unites last year.”
Destiny versus Grand Theft Auto V aren’t the only games that will make September 2014 look bad compared to September 2013. Pachter also notes that NBA 2K14 had five days of sales during the month last year, but it didn’t launch until October this time around.
In terms of the top-selling chart for software, Destiny will have company in terms of new launches last month. Those include the following:
- NHL 15
- FIFA 15
- Hyrule Warriors
- Super Smash Bros. for 3DS (NPD report for September is a five-week period ending Oct. 4. Smash debuted Oct. 3)
- Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
We’re in the holiday season now for gaming, with numerous big releases, and September is a good example of that.
While game sales are down in September, you probably shouldn’t take that as a bad sign for the industry. Publishers continue to note that new-gen software is selling just fine. It’s the old-gen stuff that is trailing off faster than expected. That indicates that the audience is hungry for new stuff on their Xbox Ones and PlayStation 4s, and that will manifest as larger and larger revenue for software spending as the install bases grow for those new machines.