Low October sales for games in US

Marginal growth for physical market despite big new releases from EA and Warner; full year will be flat at best, says NPD

Sales of physical product at US retail during October increased only marginally in October, despite the release of titles such as Battlefield 3 and Batman: Arkham City.

According to sales monitor NPD, total video game sales were up 1 per cent from $1.03 billion to $1.05 billion, with hardware up 6 per cent to $295.6 million and accessories up 3 per cent to $621.3 million.

Total software sales for home consoles, portables and PC games were up 1 per cent to $649.5 million, in a month where seven of the top ten game titles were new releases.

EA's Battlefield 3 sold just under 2 million units in the region, although NPD admitted that it was unable to track digital sales of a game with a "strong heritage" of digital downloads. Warner's Batman: Arkham City sold 1.5 million units during the month.

But the weak growth now indicates to NPD that sales for the entire year will be flat at best, or down by 2 per cent on 2010. Analysts were expecting a larger increase of double digital sales growth.

The top ten best-selling games in the US during October follow:

  • 01 Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
  • 02 Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3)
  • 03 NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC)
  • 04 Rage (360, PS3, PC)
  • 05 Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360)
  • 06 Dark Souls (PS3, 360)
  • 07 Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP)
  • 08 Forza Motorsport 4 (360)
  • 09 Gears of War 3 (360)
  • 10 FIFA Soccer 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, 3DS)

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Latest comments (7)

Analysts probably did not reckon on the simple basics that

A skint gamer can only afford 1 (maybe 2 games) in Q4.
With a silly glut of games out, the optimal choice would be what the gamer could afford in terms of replayability and whats cool in their neighbourhood/friends

If there are Four Doors, but everyone wants to get out via the same door, chances are there will be missed opportunities all around and trauma for those wanting to barge through the same orifice.

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
There was an interesting Saturday Soapbox article on Eurogamer the other day which suggested that congested release schedules are actually good for some games, as big releases get people into stores and lower-key games could benefit from people getting spend-happy.

I can't say I agree though, as in a quieter time of year I might have been inclined to buy the likes of Rage, GoldenEye Reloaded or Child of Eden; right now neither my budget or gaming time extends far enough to accommodate all of of the high-quality releases, and that's not even including new downloadable titles.
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Well, the question is - do these folks really live in the same universe as the average gamer or in a parallel universe where congested release schedules are good. Maybe its good for some games, but its a loss for all to some extent, and seriously its like offering all sorts of delicacies when all you came into the store was for either sugar (doughnut), hot food (western/ oriental / italian / greek ) or some water (10 000 varieties of sugar water, when all you want is mineral water perhaps)

its good to have choice, and perhaps too much choice is a bad thing.

Have you recently decided that there was a really, reallly good movie offering you had to go watch and see in the cinema really. 3D enhanced movies (like elements of kinect, wii u or move) are so severely suboptimised, it appears tacked on as a afterthought - and as such getting back to being the consumer with a glut of average, good to fantastic titles - its no brainer to note that maybe only the top 5 gets a look at.

Everything else may require pre christmas/post new year sale bargains to be had and maybe Q1-2 2012 before a gamer may choose to pick up a title on a whimsy. So maybe, if you're a big publisher - any time of year is good to release a game, but for the indie or lesser well known title, best to find a quieter spot and set out one's wares
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Show all comments (7)
Mary Hilton Community Manager, Reclaim Your Game6 years ago
If nobody has noticed, there is a huge global recession going on-and it's making its' presence felt everywhere, including the gaming market. The longer it drags on, the worse it will be. Game makers are still making mediocre games that won't sell as well in this market as they did when the world economy was in good shape.

Perhaps a little bit of a reality check is coming due right now. Game companies are going to be in rough territory for the next few years at the rate this recession is going on. Gamers will not have as many options for paying for over-priced and mediocre titles as they did before.

Short version: get used to the lower sales, game companies. The world is hurting. Your products aren't absolutely necessary for survival.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
I think Squeenix/Eidos have had a good strategy in the last few years, in getting one of their key titles out in August (Batman: AA, Kane & Lynch 2 and Deus Ex: HR). Certainly in the case of Deus Ex, had it launched against Gears, Resistance, BF3 et al I think it would have struggled, but I believe they released a statement last week saying it had sold over 2 million copies by the end of September.

Next February/March is already looking very overcrowded too, and I can't help but feel that some of the smaller titles will lose out.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Compressed release schedules work:

(1)If sales were mostly made by Joe the plumber walking into the store no knowing why, then sales-numbers would be more stable over time than they are. While there are games like that (your Wii Fit, or Zumba), those are the games which people who accidentally walk into stores end up buying. Even if they go there and know it exists, those customers are sold on more timeless premises than "best shooter of the month". They are not tricked into buying the hype of the week, they are getting tricked into believing you could lose some pounds by standing on some plastic board, or turn into a genius solving matchstick puzzles.

(2)Most people do not decide on their purchase after release. That is why first week sales are such a huge piece of the pie, this is why advertisements, pre-orders and midnight releases are done. You can either do them, or lose the sale, but the sale is made more and more in advance. This means you do not have to look for an empty spot in the release schedule, you have to find an empty spot in the pre-oder & pre-hype schedule. You can release your NFS clone on the same day as NFS, as long as you got your pre-orders in. Three weeks between BF3 and MW3 is not a courtesy, it is an acknowledgment of the fact that people are done with BF3 by that time and ready to buy the next game. Arkham City being released three weeks after console means nobody who saw the TV spots for the console version, will probably have forgotten about the game already.

Ultimately, each game requires the right release strategy depending on its customers. Your typical shooter crowd wants the preview, they want to decide 6 months in advance which game they buy, they want to pre-order, they will create a huge spike in the first week, which then drops off. They do not care for a dense schedule, as far as they are concerned, other games might as well not exist. Other types of customers require different approaches. Turn on the TV and you know they exist. TV spots for an EA shooter you will see for about 3-4 weeks. TV spots for an EA sports game you will see all season.

It is almost as if some games need this psychological pressure of artificial scarcity and ad pressure to fool people into buying them. Those games can suffer from a compressed release schedule.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
Release schedules have always been exceedingly silly for boxed games. People play games all year round.
But another factor is that smartphone gaming is taking a lot of customers away with fun $1.99 offerings.
And the current generation of consoles are looking very tired. A significant platform refresh is long overdue.

There is a serious danger of gaming splitting completely in two. Vast numbers of casual players on their phones playing the latest Angry Birds. And a relatively smaller number of hardcore gamers playing a small number of very expensively produced blockbusters like Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto.

As ever piracy and secondhand sales rip the heart out of the industry by reducing a publisher's propensity to invest in new products.
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