Analyst augurs flat Sept. game sales

Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich believes last month saw just 1 percent US industry growth; Force Unleashed pegged as top seller.

US retail software sales have been up significantly every month this year, but analysts have been warning for months that growth would be slowing toward the holidays. September poses the first big threat to that streak of year-over-year game sales bumps, as last year the month saw the launch of the highly anticipated and heavily hyped Xbox 360 blockbuster Halo 3.

According to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich, this September's smattering of notable releases like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Xbox 360 edition of Rock Band 2 may have filled the hole left by Halo 3, but just barely. In his monthly sales preview, Divnich predicted the industry tracking NPD Group's US retail sales figures for September will show a 1 percent bump in software sales.

"Instead of relying on just one major release, September succeeded on the backs of numerous releases that were able to, when combined, target all the major demographic segments," Divnich wrote. "Regardless of your genre or game style preference, September likely had a release for you."

Divnich projected that The Force Unleashed would dominate the sales chart for the month, with the console versions of the game taking up four of the top 10 spots and the Xbox 360 edition claiming the top slot. He expects the remaining spots to be split evenly between EA offerings (Madden NFL 09, Rock Band 2 and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames) and Nintendo's trio of chart mainstays (Wii Fit, Wii Play, and Mario Kart).

While Divnich said The Force Unleashed "was well executed across the board," he suggested that the game's review scores limited its potential sales to existing fans of the action genre and the Star Wars brand. He estimates combined Force Unleashed sales of more than 1.35 million in the US (it sold 1.5 million worldwide in its first week), but suggests average reviews of 85 percent or higher would have pushed the game to the 2 million mark. The various versions of Force Unleashed carry Metacritic review averages between 61 percent (on the DS) and 73 percent (for the Xbox 360).

As Divnich noted, "quality still plays a crucial role in driving sales."

On the hardware side, Divnich expects the Wii and DS to lead the sales charge once again, with the Xbox 360 receiving a significant bump from its recent price cut and post its best monthly sales for the year to date. As for the PS3, Divnich has it bringing up the rear, and urged Sony to consider a holiday price drop for the system, saying the $399 price point is "simply too steep to entice the casual and mainstream markets, regardless of how great Resistance 2 and Little Big Planet may be."

While the current state of the US economy may have families thinking twice about adding a PS3 to the entertainment center, Divnich expects the effect of the market's troubles to be muted in the gaming sector.

"As was the case with previous economic scares earlier in the year, we expect the current economic panic to play a minimal role in hindering video game sales," Divnich said. "One could even argue that during these tough times, the video game industry benefits as more consumers look for cheaper forms of entertainment as no other industry offers a better bang for your entertainment buck.

NPD is expected to release its September sales data on Thursday, October 16.

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48 comments
brian_13un
brian_13un

NO a great depression is extremely possible with the simultaneous losses of big company even in london

diped
diped

ctg867, we weren't on the brink of a recession/possibly depression back in 2005. Of course depressions dont effect everyone (the intelligent people who aren't in great debt and dont have subprime loans(do you/your parents, you may want to ask you might be in trouble!) When your parents get laid off, or start making a lot less money and struggle to pay for mortgage and other bills, they won't have 400$ to spend on an entertainment system. If you were a parent, where would you spend your money in a depression, 400$ toward a console, or towards food and keeping your family living in a house? The thing is people today (the young ones) have never really experianced any great economic struggle, and if what people think might possibly happen comes true, they will hit in the face with the wall of reality, maybe you included. Of course things will continue to sell, but they will sell less, there will be less people being able to spend 400$ at one time on entertainment.

ctg867
ctg867

$400 is too steep? Oh really? So that's why millions of people picked up a $400 360 Pro back in from 2005 up until the summer of 2007 right? That's why millions of people spent $450-$480 on and Elite since early 2007, and will continue to spend $400 until the price drops again. Putting aside just the consoles, look at all these music games. The games themselves are only $60, but the guitar bundles are up to $100, the band bundles are up to $200, and there is so much other crap they want you to buy to go along or replace those things. Or how about the hundreds people are spending on downloadable songs? Or how about Wii Fit, which cost anywhere from $80-$150 depending on the bundle people are trying to sell you. And guess what: people buy it. Lets not forget that's on top of a $250 console that also asks you to spend another $40 for each remote, $20 for each nunchuck, $30 for a microphone, and $20 for a classic controller which is required for many VC games and even for some retail Wii games to be played properly (Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Geometry Wars). Believe me, people have money, and will continue to buy PS3s. Don't expect a price drop until next year.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

I except pretty dismal sales figures for gaming in the month of September with the economy taking a turn for the worse. For anyone to imply that the reccession will not affect the gaming market is absolutely foolish and irrelvant to believe that people will still take gaming over everything else. The stock market is continuing to dive and I don't see how it isn't affecting game sales. Do people really thing that economic woes aren't going to stop people from wanting to spend thier money on console gaming and hardware especially when economists are predicting this holiday season to be a dismal and dark period for retailers and electronics which in turn could ultimelty cause the entire U.S. game market to cave in and collapse? Rakuho, I couldn't agree with you more. These are the factors that are hurting the industry, if we continue to watch developers go under, console sales slump, and if the holiday season is a bad as they're are predicting to be we could see another crash and the year 2009 could be the year that we see fewer games released then ever.

ParisSun
ParisSun

I'm saving my money for Fallout and Left 4 Dead. At $60.00 a pop many parents are not going to be buying their kids a bunch of games. I'll keep an eye on Dead Space, Fable 2 and Last Remnant but it will probably be next year before I play those games. It's not like thses games will be off the shelf a year from now.

Sendmn23
Sendmn23

Sony Sucks!!! it sucks!!! You can't compare this September to last September. I mean Halo 3? That was huge! HUGE!!! Hey a 1 pct increase is still an increase! Be happy its not a decrease!! sheeeesh!! Well until cows fly make mine X-box 360!!!

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

I think most of the family gamers will be looking more for "value for their money" compared to mindless spending on games in a time like this. No surprise that Force Unleashed sold an estimated 1.5 million copies just for the lone reason of being a Star Wars game.

nephili232
nephili232

If this generation has taught me anything it's that price is the single most important factor. Forget exclusives, forget features, forget reliability of the hardware or quality of the software. Price. Casual purchasers and parents make up a huge portion of the market and the only thing they understand about game systems is price.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I got alot of games last month

CaptainCrazy
CaptainCrazy

PS3 needs exclusives in a HUGE way. The only compelling reason to choose a PS3 over 360 at this point is to rid yourself of hardware problems you'll almost certainly have with MS's shoddy system.

Anthrax88
Anthrax88

And this is why PS3 will never get the upper hand of Xbox 360. With titles like fable 2 and gears of war 2 coming out plus a cheaper console. PS3 don't stand a chance.

thesaxmaniac
thesaxmaniac

SO UNFAIR that PC games aren't included. Spore probably sold 2 million copies.

surppo
surppo

sony is counting on the bluray market to pull it through Christmas they need a price drop or at least a rebate.

john_russel
john_russel

sigh! Sony doesn't really get it! They don't have a title like Halo! Resistance and LBP are pretty much new IP's and have a big fanbase but not as big as Halo...They can't use the tactics of MS, they should go for a price cut! I've been wanting to buy a PS3 just because of Killzone 2...but its too expensive!

bropie
bropie

COD5 and GH world tour will help with this for sure.

lordmt
lordmt

Thats going to change this month with the big games this month and next it will be like a 20% increase.

Connor24
Connor24

less business, more video games.

Tandem_Toad
Tandem_Toad

MS should see a larger increase in sales than Nintendo and Sony with the economy in bad shape. Since, the arcade version is now $199.

lamprey263
lamprey263

People are probably saving their money for all the highly anticipated games coming out in October and November. Besides, there weren't any big September releases except Force Unleashed, and that probably didn't sell as much as excepted because of the mediocre reviews... though they did port it every which way, that's gotta count for something from a commercial standpoint. Despite the reviews, maybe it would have sold better had not everyone got a chance to demo this awful game beforehand.

trebor-1000
trebor-1000

To many good games on the way and so who can afford them all, As much as I love Star Wars I completed this in about a week (for the story) I could go back collect all the extras etc but might just trade it in while it's still worth £25 quid store credit. Considering I'm still playing Half Life 2 (90% through it) which I got last Christmas Force Unleashed was not good value for money. Fancy dead space too.

AZisBack
AZisBack

I cant believe they still have Wii play listed as a game. No one wants that garbage game they just want the remote.

jazilla
jazilla

People gotta eat and pay da billz before they game yo!

SonicRaptor
SonicRaptor

Quality never, ever plays a role in sales: it's always been marketing and always will be.

saintsrowCS
saintsrowCS

September WTF I thought It was October I guess I must've time traveled

dkell2
dkell2

I'm going to get a million tumbs down for this, but PS3 doesn't need a price cut. The "next generation" hasn't started yet for casual gamers. Just look at the sales for the wii and PS2. PS3 is still new technology for early adoptors. They're going for a 10 year life cycle... still plenty of time for plenty of price cuts.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Meh. There's plenty of big name titles coming out in October alone. Fallout 3, LittleBigPlanet, and Fable 2 just to name a few. Lucasarts has been hit-or-miss so much lately that it's no surprise TFU didn't break any records. Don't count the game industry as being in a sales slump yet, though the state of the economy probably will have some effect.

sousuke223
sousuke223

all i got so say i have enough for 2 to 3 games and this month Fable is gonna be one of those 2 or 3 now fallout 3 left 4 dead probally might make it but then u got gears starcraft 2 rez 4 september besides spore had nothing good compared to whats coming any other year theyd be considered good months but this year is just insane but vote is for people to wait for games like fable fallout gears and left 4 dead since there gonna be amazing the rest of these are wait till holidays or just dont get at all especially force unleashed i mean a not even an 8 not worth the little money i have

CTBradums
CTBradums

October will be the beginning of a rise in gaming sales. Don't listen to an economist, listen to gamers. There are a good number of quality games coming out this season, Fable II being only one example this month. The previous months declined in sales because there was nothing good to sell to gamers. Simple as that.

TheRaiderNation
TheRaiderNation

I think its pretty interesting that over the last year the economy has worsened and video game sales increased. I actually agree with his point that the high PS3 price point may limit its sales this holiday season. October and November have some absolutely killer games coming out, and more A Titles coming out at once than I have ever seen at this time of the year! Times are starting to really get harsh in the US with the economy. I would think eventually this is going ot affect software sales, even if they are considered a bigger bang for your buck entertainment wise. I am finishing up grad school, and with times getting tougher and the price of everything going up, I conserve a lot more money and spend less on gaming in general

Faller88
Faller88

"quality still plays a crucial role in driving sales." .......Yeah....Thats why Wii Fit is still in the top 10....*Sighs*

spacer69
spacer69

Its time that software for ps3 and x360 comes down from its $60.00 a title for several reasons. World economies are slowing down, people have less money to give to kids for games, and a lot of people lost their jobs. Secondly since hardware has come down recently to promote sales and some games lately haven't been worth its $ 60.00 price tag. It makes sense to drop some of these recent titles and more that are coming out to $50.00 to help promote more sales. Disgaea 3 sold for $50.00 which it wasn't worth more than a $40.00 since it look like it could of been played on a PS1. Just my 2 cents, wait that is all I have left in my 401k :(

funnysplay
funnysplay

It would be nice if the PS3 does drop prices over the holiday's.

jasonbarbour
jasonbarbour

nonsense - the games in September were just not good enough - October, November, and December will have record sales I have enough money for a video game or two, and so do most of my friends - its just the last few months have been lacking in titles to buy... why waste my money on games i don't like now when i can spend it on games like resistance 2 and gears 2 etc in a month (in fact there are so many hit titles coming out in the next six months i am having trouble picking what to buy) -there's dead space, far cry 2, LBP, R2, GOW2,Resident Evil 5, Killzone 2, COD5, James Bond, etc, etc, etc. I just cant afford that many, The video gaming industry will get every penny i can spare on entertainment this fall and next spring anad probably next summer as well... unlike this year when ive jsut been sticking with cod4 and halo 3, now i have too many choices...

calvinx6
calvinx6

Damn Nintendo own the game market right now.

kilaan
kilaan

"quality still plays a crucial role in driving sales." When will someone tell the publishers this?

Zacek
Zacek

This are hard times for the economy in the world. I wanted to buy some games, but I think I can't do this until Christmas.

mikewalsh69
mikewalsh69

well with the amount of great amazing titles coming out in the last 3 months, gaming will be the worlds economic hope. the one little bright light that'll keep this world still soldiering on through the darkness. one day the world will look back and thank us gamers for providing a medium that helped so many people through a tough time just like the movies helped so many people in the 30's.

Richmaester6907
Richmaester6907

Good the money grabbers are a few sales short yet its the consumers fault as usual god bless democracy :D

Richmaester6907
Richmaester6907

Good the money grabbers are a few sales short yet its the consumers fault as usual god bless democracy :D

dukerav
dukerav

That may be true for Sept. but this month and November are totally different stories altogether.

_JPH_
_JPH_

Since the economy is down and people are saving their money rather on wasting it, if they want to buy a console they would go for either a Wii or an Xbox 360 Pro. The most expensive one they might buy is the 60 GB 360 which is 299$. It is a very hard time now in the US. I believe next month's US industry growth will be lower than last year's.

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

Why do these analysts exist? Next week we get the real numbers and they are 99% of the time not in-line with what these guys "predict". So again I ask...what use are they?

Un4givingAsault
Un4givingAsault

i bet sales will pick up in late october early november

-HaloHitman-
-HaloHitman-

Nothing could have beat last years halo, I was surprised when they said that star wars and rock band barely filled the gap.

neo418
neo418

There may be a price-drop after all.

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

Honestly, I don't find it surprising at all that the rise would stop at September. We had some hits this year, like, big stuff, throughout, early on in 2008. With Brawl, GTAIV, MGS4 and all that swell jazz. But in terms of software sales, to expect anything released this September to match up to what Halo 3 did in September of 2007 is ludicrous. I mean, the 360 version of GTAIV and Halo 3 sold the same amount in their opening weeks (though if you add in the PS3 versions sales, GTAIV, as a whole, eclipsed Halo 3's sales), but seriously, if anyone expected The Force Unleashed, Rock Band 2 and whatever else was released in September to surpass Halo 3's numbers in any way probably don't know what they're talking about. This really isn't surprising at all, though it's probably safe to say that in October and November we'll see another rise in software sales what with Fable II, Fallout 3, LittleBigPlanet, Gears 2 and a whole lot more coming out.