Game sales down another 20 percent during July for US

NPD reports that not even the combined powers of Spider-Man and Batman can save the industry

According to The NPD Group, US games business continued its downward slide for 2012 during the month of July. Total game industry sales diminished 20 percent to $548.4 million and software sales (including PC) were down 23 percent to $278.2 million.

"These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software and accessories, which account for roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games. When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in July such as used and rentals at $117MM, 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 $439MM, we would estimate the total consumer spend in July to be $1.1B," said NPD industry analyst Anita Frazier.

"Our final assessment of the consumer spend in these areas outside of new physical retail sales will be reported in November in our Q3 Games Market Dynamics: U.S. report."

While July was a down month in what has been a down year, Frazier says there's reason to be optimistic in the near term.

"Looking forward to August, the launch of the 3DS XL coupled with New Super Mario Bros. 2 should bring a nice boost to the performance of the new physical retail channel. While August is typically 'Madden Month', Madden NFL '13 launches on August 28th which falls into the September reporting period. So, like last year, Madden will impact September results instead of August," she said.

"New physical retail sales of games hardware, software and accessories traditionally follows a very reliable seasonality pattern. Based on year to date sales, and taking into account the release slate for the back five months of the year as well as the anticipated launch of the Wii U, annual sales for the new physical channel should come in around $14.5B for the year."

Hardware shrunk 32 percent year-on-year to $150.7 million and Frazier noted that it affected almost every piece of hardware across the board.

"Of the hardware platforms that were on the market last July, only one, the 3DS, realized a unit sales increase over last year. Both the DS and the 3DS, however, realized a month-over-month unit sales increase over June 2012 while the other platforms declined," she said.

As expected, NCAA Football 13 was the leading seller for the month that saw few new releases. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman: Arkham City were all in the top five, showing the boost the Summer movies The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises are giving to their complementary video games. Just Dance 3 reentered the top five at number four, while Diablo III (a top seller the past two months) fell completely out of the top 10.

"On a SKU ranking, Pokemon Conquest is among the top 10 in sales for the month of July," noted Frazier. "The top ten games ranking includes several games that launched a number of months ago such as Batman Arkham City and Dead Island, which both received a boost in sales due to the release of Game of the Year editions. Looking forward to August, besides the launch of New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, it will be interesting to see the performance of Sleeping Dogs which is new IP that has garnered a fair amount of buzz."

Accessories are bucking the overall trend of the industry, up 8 percent to $136.9 million.

"Accessories was the only category up in both dollars and units for the month, driven by increases in points and subscriptions game cards as well as the Skylanders character packs," she said. "Between the characters that are packaged with the Skylanders game and the sales of the separate character packs, over 25 million individual Skylanders figures have been sold through at retail in the U.S. since the launch of the game in October 2011."

Here are the top 10 games for July:

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Latest comments (12)

Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software9 years ago
Bring on the parade of "Piracy & used game sales are killing us and look, here's proof" derp. Let's just get that out of the way now, so we can neatly put it aside and start looking at some of the real causes.

Not to say that piracy is not a real thing, it is. But it's these kinds of numbers in the past that have sent the music and movie industries into froth at the mouth conniption fits. I expect the large publishers and houses to do something similar. Call me cynical when it comes to this, but when I see Dead or Alive 5, (Bigger boob edition, now with more skin!) I can't help but wonder when the big players will start to realize that there is some truth to the old notion "Crap in/Crap out" when creating things. We need more innovation, better design, newer thinking. These days, what I am seeing is a lot of prevarication and equivocating...blaming everything under the sun rather than addressing the more pressing issues.

Until we start seeing some real dialog about what's going wrong...fair dialog, that tries to see as many perspectives as possible as to the causes... then we're still on the way towards the modern day "E.T." 2600 Cartridge.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
Obviously hardware is down at a point where everyone wanting the hardware (or at least is willing to pay current price) has it. But I still don't see how you can make meaningful comparisons year on year without digital sales. We all know Steam is growing year on year. We don't know by how much. If more people are gaming on PC, I'm guessing PC hardware bought for gaming is impossible to count in the games hardware bracket.
Maybe sales are down, but to say that for sure, you need all of the numbers.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
These folks need to do some actual on the street dialog with us common folk who can't afford all the games we used to buy because our disposable income is going towards food, rent and less entertain-y stuff these days. Some of us are buying more digital content because it's cheaper, not as a complete substitute for retail games. I actually buy little to no digital games, as I have a crappy connection and no use for any device that forces me to spit up personal info and such on a regular basis.

Naturally I'm in the "minority" on that front, it seems, but as for the too broke to buy new games part, yeah, I can understand THAT part of the equation completely.

And as I've said before, sure peripheral sales are up as even if you aren't buying new games as much, you can't play anything without a controller (or an old controller that's not working as it should)...
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Show all comments (12)
David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
The peripheral sales are up due to Skylanders - showing that people are willing to spend money on things that they want badly enough. It's not like the economy has been great for the last few years in any case, so when you have slowdown of this caliber for three years running, it points to larger issues.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Sales are always down at the end of a console cycle. This is normal. It's not a symptom of some problem with the console business model.
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Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News9 years ago
Sales are down and people are crying doom. What a surprise. The 360 hasn't seen a price cut in the US for ages. It's coming up on its seventh birthday and the ASP is $275, so it's no real wonder that sales are slowing. Plus it's summer, when the industry always goes into a lull due in large part to their own refusal, despite talking about it every single year, to actually spread their release schedule out through the entire year.

Numbers are going to come back up in the coming months. Unless there's a price drop for some of the involved parties, they'll still be down year-over-year. It's not the end of the industry, it's the end of the generation.
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Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent9 years ago

Amazing how short memories are isn't it?
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
I certainly hope it's just an end of cycle slump - I unabashedly love AAA experiences. This next set of consoles will face a unique set of challenges I don't feel has come up for any new set of console before, with disruption from new devices and business angles. I think there will still be games I'll want to play, I'm not terribly worried about that, but it is troubling that visions of where the industry will be in five years are hazier than they perhaps ever were before.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Dan, I wish I could be so kind as to chalk it up to simply short term memory but I'm willing to be so bold as to claim ignorance, lack of common sense and even some intentional disinformation to appeal to investors.
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Tony Johns9 years ago
So far I am waiting for 6 Japanese RPGs to come out, and 3 Japanese fighting games. And 1 Japanese Rhythm Action game.

I have not being able to see anything in the top 10 that resembles what I really want. Not even in the western equivalent of RPGs or Fighting games has anything on offer for what I want. Except for the Rhythm music game Just Dance, but I would have wanted the Japanese songs and version and not the western one please.

So I know that perhaps I am just a different sort of gamer, but I really feel that the games industry is past it for me as the games I really want are not those of the top 10.
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Tony Johns9 years ago

I hear you loud and clear, I am in a similar situation myself because I have university and car running around that takes up most of my spending, and I can only buy the games I REALLY want new that are only the niche genres from Japan.

If I want to buy more games, I simply don't have allot of money for the other things in my life that take up more importance.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tony Johns on 11th August 2012 3:26am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Piracy. End of cycle.
Neither of these. Boxed console gaming has been contracting as a market since 2008. This contraction has gradually accelerated till now it has become a collapse.

The mass market of customers have moved on.
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