Game sales down 29% in US during June

NPD's retail report shows physical software and hardware way down

The NPD Group's retail sales data report for the US games business did not paint a pretty picture for the month of June. The double-digit declines keep mounting as total game industry sales fell 29 percent to $699.8 million, while software sales (including PC) also dipped 27 percent to $362.8 million. Accessories was the only category to tick up slightly (4 percent) to $169.8 million.

"These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software and accessories, which account for roughly 50-60% of the total consumer spend on games. When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales such as used and rentals at $170MM, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and the consumer spend on social network games at $491MM, we would estimate the total consumer spend in June to be $1.36B," NPD industry analyst Anita Frazier said.

"Our final assessment of the consumer spend on these areas outside of new physical retail sales will be reported in September in our Q2 Games Market Dynamics: U.S. report."

Frazier also noted that Nintendo's been doing very well with its 3DS, even better than the DS at the same point in its cycle.

"The 3DS is still up nearly 25% over where the NDS was in a similar point in time after release to market, and has topped portable hardware unit sales for the last 11 months. I am excited by the content that is coming to market later this year, and to watch what impact that will have on hardware sales," she said.

A light release schedule certainly didn't help the industry with its summer doldrums. The top selling games were Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (which sold 450,000 units across all platforms), Ghost Recon: Future Solider, Diablo III and Max Payne 3. Most analysts believe the industry will break out of its slump in the fall when a heavy slate of triple-A products are scheduled to hit stores.

As for why Batman came out on top, Frazier commented, "Batman may be on consumers' minds with Batman: Arkham City also ranking sixth, and with the latest movie, Dark Knight Rises, debuting later in July."

On software weakness overall she added: "In the first half of 2012, there were 34% less new software SKUs compared to last year. On an average SKU basis, they generated 4% less units, but 2% more dollars on average. This shows that while new launch performance is relatively stable, it is the sheer reduction in the number of launches that is contributing to the overall softness we are seeing in software so far in 2012. The decrease in new launch volume accounts for 41% of the net unit decline and 47% of the net dollar decline from first half of 2011."

Here are the top 10 games for June:

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Latest comments (11)

David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
Ouch. June isn't a vital sales month for the industry, but I think this clearly demonstrates an overall weakness in the sector. Particularly, the Wii U will give more strength back to Nintendo home hardware/software sales.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
This is certainly bad news for retailers. But the industry has to wonder, if this is a result of people spending less money on games, or just on game related products NPD cannot track.

Because if people spend less money, then why are the numbers for accessories stable? If the NPD number told the whole story then a 30% drop for software and no measurable drop for accessories would be a crazy anomaly.

I do not believe in the argument of fewer releases. Because the market was oversaturated before, it is still oversaturated now. If you look at the average money a consumer spends, there is still more than enough viable products for everybody to relinquish people of their money. It's not like 30% of gamers want to buy a game, but there is nothing on the market that suits their taste.
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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Online play has extended the value of many console games, making it less necessary to purchase a new game. If you're enjoying your Call of Duty online with your buddies, there's less reason to go and buy a new game. Add to that fewer new releases, aging consoles, and a much broader array of choices -- mobile, social, downloadable games on your console or PC -- and it's not hard to see why traditional retail boxed games are slumping badly.

New consoles may help revive things to some extent, but I don't think we'll see the same volume of releases for consoles regardless. And other games and platforms will continue to pull people away from consoles, or at least from buying as many new games.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Um... how about too many people are BROKE, period. It's amazing that you guys with paying jobs can't, don't or WON'T acknowledge this fact. I know quite a number of folks who've lost jobs and can't afford to keep buying as many new games as they'd like to. Some are saving up for the new consoles coming or for certain AAA titles this holiday season, but there's a lot of renting or waiting for price drops in my circle of gamer friends.

An over-saturation of titles (just pop into any game shop and see for yourself) plus no one buying them plus some of these consumers playing free stuff on devices to get a temporary fix isn't good for the industry in the long run, as all it's doing is fooling people into thinking free to play or dirt cheap game experiences are the ONLY way to go.

If things get much worse in some areas of the economy, I think there's gong to be another crash that hits gaming harder than the first one in the 80's. Then again, maybe things can go quiet for a while and people can actually THINK more about how to do what's right instead of think of new and dwindling ways to keep the money train rolling.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz9 years ago
@ Greg, i don't think anyone is discounting that aspect. The economy still sucks, and unemployment is bad, no doubt. That's why free-to-play on PC and cheap or free mobile games are very appealing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Brightman on 13th July 2012 7:38pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Bad economy, summer slump, end of console cycle, no price cuts, NPD not tracking enough digital sales, etc...

And we're surprised the numbers are down?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
@James: Oh, but they are, even if they don't know it. Every post where some ftp studio head or mobile games maker is crapping on the console generation and stating that their games are a better value or going to kill off consoles for any reason, there's not a whiff or consideration that perhaps both can (and should) live together in the same space.

Hell, if there's a big fat solar storm or disaster that wipes out the internet in some spots, almost none of those devices will work at all. People who have electricity and a console with physical media will be hunkering in their bunkers gaming in their spare time, while device users will be going koo-koo because they can't get a signal or access any content.

Back to reality: I'd LOVE to see ACTUAL digital sales numbers across all platforms one of these days, as I bet there's even more number fudging going on than with retail.
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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Unfortunately hard numbers on digital sales are scarce. Large companies like EA or Activision don't break out specifics on digital sales. Smaller companies aren't public and rarely give numbers, and when they do there's little independent verification. NPD is now offering a quarterly number for digital sales, but has not revealed how they arrive at it.

That all makes it even harder to figure out what's working and what's not in digital sales.
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Adam Learmonth Studying BSc (Hons) Computer Game Applications Development, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
Greg, although yours would be a valid reason for a long and gradual decline in sales, I somehow doubt that a third of gamers all suddenly ran out of entertainment expenditure in the space of a month. There's more to it than that.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
The headline here is very misleading and could lead some people to false conclusions.

It should say "Games sold on physical media down 29% in US in June."
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 9 years ago
I also can't tell what the reduction is in relation to. Maybe I missed the part where it was specified but is this a 30% reduction year-on-year or from May-June?

Those two would make VERY large differences to the importance of the numbers...
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