Game sales plummet by 32% in US during April

A very light release schedule and an early Easter holiday spelled bad news for sales

The NPD Group has released its April sales report for the US games industry, and the numbers for retail are not pretty. Total video game sales fell off a cliff, dropping 32 percent to $630.4 million. Software sales alone really nosedived by 42 percent, totaling $307.2 million (including PC retail titles), while hardware fell 32 percent to $189.7 million.

While retail alone does not paint a nice picture for the business, NPD stressed that new physical retail generates about 65 percent of total sales, and what NPD calls the total consumer spend actually came to $1.0 billion for April - this includes used games, rentals, full game digital downloads, DLC, subscriptions, mobile games and social games.

Regarding the retail softness, NPD analyst Anita Frazier commented, "This year, Easter fell very early in April, which means most Easter-related purchases may have fallen into March this year, whereas last year, Easter fell late in April causing most sales to fall in that month. We usually find that Easter-related purchases generate an extra 10 percent in revenue in the month they occur, so some of the softness compared to last April could be attributed to the shift in Easter timing."

She also remarked on the lack of compelling triple-A games in the market. "I think what the new physical retail content sales reflect a very light release schedule in terms of the amount of compelling new games. Last April, the top seven titles outsold the top-selling title this year, and, simply stated, there were notably fewer new market introductions," she said. "I think it's a simple as that because when we see compelling content come into the market, the games are still selling as well as ever - we just saw a lot less this April as compared to last."

Looking at the NPD chart, Activision's Prototype 2 was one of the few new releases to make a splash. Kinect Star Wars also performed reasonably well, and Frazier noted that interest in the title also drove higher sales for Microsoft's Star Wars Kinect 360 bundle. And while not on the top 10 chart, Frazier also pointed out that Nintendo's Kid Icarus: Uprising for 3DS "ranked among the top 10 SKU's for the month, and would have made the list if we were reporting on SKU rather than total title level."

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Latest comments (6)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 7 years ago
But they cannot measure the digital market.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.7 years ago
I also just learned that NPD doesn't count any games that are sold at exclusively one retailer. Even if it's a retailer they track. Can't imagine how they justify that one.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve7 years ago
I've given up with these sales statistics, massive portions of the market (and supposedly the new fast rising areas of gaming) are left out of the figures, making the statistics irrelevant.

On one article you have "Digital is the future, digital sales growing, mobile and social games take gaming to the masses", and then on another page like this one saying "oh wow, physical sales are dropping? What gives?".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Thomas Dolby on 11th May 2012 1:10pm

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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 7 years ago
these make for 5second reading and then its better to forget you wasted those 5seconds of your life. I personally would much more like to see some analyzed numbers. for example:
-how the sales averaged over working days compared?
-how many titles released last year over the same period as compared to this year?
and so on.

Ofcourse these can be calculated on your own but not really willing to put that effort in.
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Tin Katavic Studying MSc-Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
I wonder if the approaching end of the school year has any impact on those sales? Preparing for exams in May might cause students to avoid buying new games...
Or I could be grasping at straws.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today7 years ago
A lot of gamers are waiting for the May releases as both Diablo III and Max Payne 3 are going to sell in huge numbers (we'll see if these two crush Dragon's Dogma sales. Next year we will read that year-over-year sales for May were down 40 percent - unless Rockstar release GTA V in May next year.
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