Analyst: March a perfect sales storm

EEDAR's Jesse Divnich says strong NPD numbers show the industry is maturing, less reliant on holiday sales quarter.

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The NPD Group's freshly released gaming-industry sales figures for the month of March handily trumped analysts' expectations, given that US retailers sold nearly $1 billion in game software and another $551 million in hardware.

Though the numbers have barely had time to sink in, one analyst has already pulled a few lessons from the data dump. Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich (formerly with the simExchange prediction market) called the month a "perfect storm" for new game releases, with something for everyone.

"Super Smash Bros. Brawl fulfilled the needs of the casual, social, and sub-13-year-old markets," Divnich said in a note to reporters. "The hardcore gamers seeking heavy action and strong multiplayer support had Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Even Army of Two played its role by attracting in consumers with its flashy marketing campaign and catchy theme song!"

The success of these games further shows that the gaming business has reached a certain level of maturity, according to Divnich.

"The industry is finally large enough to support numerous AAA titles during an off-season month," Divnich said, "and going forward, publishers need not fear a PS3/Xbox 360 title hindering their Wii title (or vice versa). March has proven that the PS3/Xbox 360 and the Wii can coexist perfectly together."

While other analysts have debated how the state of the US economy impacts the gaming industry, Divnich said an argument could be made that the gaming business actually thrives during economic downturns.

"These results only reinforce previous assumptions that the video game industry offers the best value in terms of entertainment," Divnich said, "especially during tough economic times when inflation is on the rise and gas prices continue to push record highs."

Finally, Divnich noted the somewhat stagnant sales levels of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware, despite the strong performances of multiplatform games Army of Two and Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Divnich said that could signal the need for price cuts on those consoles because they may have reached all the consumers they're likely to reach at current levels.

"If we do not see any price cuts in the coming weeks, we can likely expect some hardware cuts once GTAIV loses some steam (before July) or if the GTAIV release significantly drives hardware sales for one console over the other," Divnich said.

Discussion

57 comments
raverrozza
raverrozza

"Super Smash Bros. Brawl fulfilled the needs of the casual, social, and sub-13-year-old markets," really i thought the reason smash bros was so hyped was from the hardcore gamers!

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@ Konocti, I agree. A friend of mine bought it and from what I played, It sucked! I think It was well marketed by EA and "overhyped". Just my opinion though.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I personally hope to get a Wii hear in the next month simply because of their 1st party titles. Maybe I'll get both the PS3 and Wii with my gov. stimulus check (hurry). I'm glad to see that game sales haven't been hindered by our slumping economy. Maybe they could at least stop nickle & diming us for DLC content that is released right after the game.

darkride66
darkride66

plaestic said "And with that, choose a PS3 or 360. They're just better." That's certainly your opinion. Personally I disagree. Although there is a fair amount of shovelware out there for the Wii, it's more than made up for with the excellent titles currently available. Although Super Mario, Super Smash, Zelda, Metroid, etc..etc may not be for you, there is no denying the excellent reviews these titles have received. I'm playing through Super Mario Galaxy right now and although I'm an older gamer I can't help but be taken back to Mario 64. Mario Galaxy is well worth the price of admission.

Canderous_Fordo
Canderous_Fordo

the console war isn't over it's just stopped to catch its breath

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

It only makes sense that gaming flourishes when the economy is bad because people tend to stay home more instead of going out to eat or a movie. So, what do they have at home to entertain them? Video games.

plaestic
plaestic

And with that, choose a PS3 or 360. They're just better.

darkride66
darkride66

@ mrklorox. You said "Saying there are 111 million households that have not made the jump is not an accurate assumption." And I said that. It's probably more with a new generation of game players in additions to the old guard. The average game players age is 33 years, so it wouldn't surprise me if there are more gamers out there now. So, just to be conservative, let's say there are 150 million gamers who have yet to choose. :)

Dryker
Dryker

"A Perfect Storm"??? I wonder sometimes, do the facts drive the analysis or does the analysis just get tweaked to fit the facts?

mrklorox
mrklorox

@darkride66: That's 165M consoles sold... not number of households that have video game consoles. Many households have/had more than one or all three; there is also the factor of those that bought the same console twice (everybody I know that bought a fat PS2 earlier, also bought a slim PS2 later). Saying there are 111 million households that have not made the jump is not an accurate assumption; and there is the concept that Wii is being sold more as a first console than an upgrade to any previous console -- like the PS3 and 360 seem to be). Regardless, two they're separate sub-markets to the same market.

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

@lyndonrebutoc Plus, we don't have to worry about Mario or Master Chiefe plugging political movements or going on strike!

darkride66
darkride66

@ shig. While it certainly doesn't seem like the Wii can be caught, a lot can happen. Last gen there was approx 165 million consoles sold between the Xbox, Gamecube and PS2. So far this gen only approx 54 million consoles have been sold. Now, this isn't an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, but that makes 111 million last gen console holders that haven't made the leap to this gen yet. Although the Wii will certainly be hard to catch, it's still not outside the realm of possibility that it may not finish first. Good news is that whoever comes out on top, gamers win.

shig
shig

are people really this stupid? the PS3 cannot compete with the wii. that war is over, and has been over ever since the consoles launched next to eachother and the wii has been outselling sony close to 3-1 ever since. that gap is not going to close ANY time soon, as there are STILL no wiis around and every fred meyer or wal mart i go into has PS3 in stock. the only concern now is whether or not the 360 will beat the wii......and that is a joke. to date Wii sales are destroying the 360 and has everyone already forgotten that the 360 came out A YEAR BEFORE THE WII!?!?!?!? the wii is close to breaking the 21 million mark while microsoft is hovering around 18 with a constant stock in stores. i cant imagine what these figures would be like if nintendo would get the led out and meet demand, if they did that, this generation would be a joke in terms of competition. the wii has won the console war, and is still the ONLY system yet to cut its price. when they cut price, meet demand, and get more star games out?....well....nintendo will be doing to Microsoft what it is doing to sony right now. EMBARASSING THE H3LL OUT OF IT! stop talking about the PS3 and its "amazing" hardware. the DS beat the PSP flat out and the wii has done the same. Congrats to nintendo, the classic company in the market is on top once again!

crelus
crelus

" Brawl fulfilled the needs of the casual, social, and sub-13 year old markets," You'll notice 3 (count them THREE) different groups listed in the authors statement. Not just 13 year olds. Several people seemed to be upset that the author said the game was only for 13 year olds and below. He didn't. Also, I never heard of the game, but my nephews, 9 and 10, asked for the game and after getting it for them I liked it and got it for myself. Relax!

THE_WHITE_MAGE
THE_WHITE_MAGE

Yeah, this guy is just wrong. I am sorry, but any game that can sell almost three million copies in one territory alone in one month is a hardcore game. And sub-13 year old set? I am 29, love Brawl, and I loved Smash before it. Not counting my nephew, almost everyone I know who plays it and who went out and bought it is over 25. It seems analysts often undermine Nintendo in the press, while maximizing M$ and P$3. I am not saying they are on the take or being paid under the table by these companies, but, hmm, maybe I am saying that. I am just saying that a console is defined by its games, and so far the Wii has them. Between Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy, Super Paper Mario, Metroid Prime 3, Fire Emblem 2, No More Heroes, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and in a couple of weeks Mario Kart Wii, not to mention great ports like Okami, Resident Evil 4 and casual games like Wii Sports, Warioware, and Rayman Raving Rabbids, Nintendo's console has had an amazing 18 month run. All of that in less than a year and a half? That is crazy! I hope Nintendo keeps on this road, and the Wii becomes one of the all-time great systems.

twolegsbad
twolegsbad

PS3 Hardware sales are down? Maybe that's because you can't go to the store and buy one. Its got nothing do do with price point and everything to do with the fact that SONY DOES NOT HAVE A DECENT SKU ON THE MARKET RIGHT NOW. What's up with that? Unless you count the 40 GB, which isn't so much a gaming system as a cheap blue-ray player. Anyone actually wanting a PS3 right now is waiting for the new 80 GB sku with the new controller.

twolegsbad
twolegsbad

360 Hardware sales are down? That won't change anytime soon. Can you say "format war is over".

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

I don't think SSBB is for sub 13 year olds only. It's still fairly entertaining. Also, I'd love it if 360 got a price cut of oh say $300

shade1978x
shade1978x

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

cooldude03
cooldude03

In an industry with so many disappointments, this proves than quality games can sell. I'm ready for more quality games and less disappointments.

ratempa
ratempa

Yeah, but only loosers want to co-exist. Winners want to dominate.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

Isn't this the same jerk that predicted that March would be dominated by the PS3 due to bluray? THese guys need to get real jobs, cause they are just guessing, and ANY ONE of us can do that.

darkride66
darkride66

"March has proven that the PS3/Xbox360 and the Wii can co-exist perfectly together." If only the same could be said for the fans of the systems. I think this is great news, and I've maintained in the past the recession is good for games as people seek escapism. These are good times to be a gamer.

djayshaggy
djayshaggy

I would just like to say that I am very much a hardcore games, and I played the s*** out of Smash Bros. from the time that it came out until Tuesday when Okami came out. I didn't see too many casual gamers at the launch event, and there may have been one person under 13 and a couple of parents. Most of the people there were hardcore gamers. I don't know a hardcore gamer who doesn't like Smash Bros. Heck I know alot of people who bought a Wii JUST so they could play it. If that isn't hardcore, I don't know what is.

kkkkknaruto
kkkkknaruto

a 40gb ps3 is $50 mre dan a 20gb 360 with free online play so stp asking for price cuts.....dey've put enough value to justify their price especially with the mgs bundle coming out.

SylvanC94
SylvanC94

Casual gamers are defined by their attitudes, not by the games they play. I play CoD4, Forza 2, GH3, Halo 3, etc. but I don't take myself so seriously that I get my panties in a wad when someone talks crap on the mic or I don't get 1st place every time. In the end, they're just games to me. I don't define my life by them.

lyndonrebutoc
lyndonrebutoc

Maybe in the near future, The gaming industry will beat the movie industry in terms of revenue and sales, Because in video games you can control and participate in the story, The Story is much longer, And some games have a high replay value, you can play again, Some, have sandbox style like the GTA IV that lets you play forever, unlike in movies, Movies are fun, but for just about 2-4 hrs, the average movie ticket prices are 6$ and its only for 2-4 hrs, while some video games costs 60$ and you can play it for 200 hrs or more(Like Roleplaying and sandbox games), Its like 10 times the price but 100+ times the enjoyment...

Irve
Irve

oh ... now i do hope that will lead to further price cuts in the UK. people forget that the recent price cut still makes the 360 more expensive here than it is in the states ... what we need is a PS3 price cut and the DS3 in pack

The_J0ker
The_J0ker

"We are speaking about a system where Mario and Sonic at the Olympics outsold No More Heroes. And don't be surprised if Okami also puts up dismal figures in April." Games with massively famous characters and licenses will always outsell niche hardcore games, regardless of the console. I shouldn't need to remind you that No More Heroes is Grasshopper Manufacture's most successful game of all time (they have 13 releases, five of which are PS2) and that Okami bombed on the PS2. Anyway, if mass market = casual, every huge franchise (GTA, Halo, FInal Fantasy) is casual. Which is true in a sense as these franchises are very popular with casual gamers, there is just a distinction in many people's eyes between games that appeal primarily to casuals (Buzz, Singstar, Mario Party) and games that appeal to both casuals and "hardcores" (GTA, Halo, FF, Mario, Smash Bros..).

Konocti
Konocti

How did Army of Two sell that many? Who bought that game? I want to understand why you did...

Abaxiel
Abaxiel

@plaestic i disagree with your opinion. :)

plaestic
plaestic

rexCo said, "Smash Bros fulfilled the needs of the casual, social and sub-13 markets? Yeah, ok there. I could analyze the game market better than this Divinch guy." LOL I read that quote in the article and just knew the fanboys were gonna get in a twist. I view SSBB as a mass appeal - mass audience game. While an individual can be hardcore into their SSBB, it's not a hardcore game. It's pick up and play instant gratification. And IMO, which admittedly means squat, SSBB is merely the gutter on the road Capcom and SNK paved.

SegArgyle
SegArgyle

I think we need to find a way to quiet fanboys, because THEY are the ones ruining video gaming, and in my opinion holding things back.

Jesse2040
Jesse2040

no holds bar action here, huh? SSBB did fullfill those needs, but of course SSBB was a mass-market game that hit all sub-markets within our industry, I was just saying that for those specific sub-markets, they had SSBB. I think a lot of the confusion comes down to the definition of a casual gamer. I think sometimes when we hear "casual gamer" we tend to think too far to the extreme of its definition, when in reality, most of the gaming market can fall under the casual class. By somes defintion, if you don't have a gold account on Xbox Live, you are considered a casual gamer (that would be the other extreme on the casual thinking). Enjoy,

rexCo
rexCo

Smash Bros fulfilled the needs of the casual, social and sub-13 markets? Yeah, ok there. I could analyze the game market better than this Divinch guy.

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

Why do I need to buy a new game? I'm still trying to find enough time for Halo3, COD4, Orange Box and GH3. I'm goin to buy GTAIV but thats it. I gotta say though, a steady flow of quaility titles throughout the year is very preferrable to a flood of titles in October and November. I've barely played Orange Box for that reason.

xchiefmegadethx
xchiefmegadethx

cause people bought R6V2, now thats opening the door for more trash like it!

Willy105
Willy105

SSBB ain't much of a casual game, it's too complicated. But it is sign that our industry's growth spurt shall not end!

Merl57
Merl57

people are so worried about the economy they just haven't found the right industry

ocdog45
ocdog45

i got SSBB adn RSV2 for the PS3. got rid of my 360 for a Wii in April.

Jesse2040
Jesse2040

Thanks for the comments, you are all actually right and sometimes I over-use the word "casual gaming", but understand the casual gaming market played a large role in SSBB success, especially in the sub-13 market, which is often overlooked. If you look at any million+ seller on the Wii, they all have features that tailor to the casual market in someway or another. We are speaking about a system where Mario and Sonic at the Olympics outsold No More Heroes. And don't be surprised if Okami also puts up dismal figures in April. and yes, I am a sucker for using buzzwords, sorry :/ . I always appreciate the feedback, negative or positive.

pikaby
pikaby

'....has proven that the PS3/Xbox360 and the Wii can co-exist perfectly together' If only everyone on this site was like this :lol:

EPaul
EPaul

Brawl was a major contributor to this and what's with that guy saying brawl is a casual game? Brawl is a fighter

MonkishGamer
MonkishGamer

Super Smash Bros. Brawl pwns. Enough said.

nintendog66
nintendog66

Wait... Most of what they talk about in the article is SSBB and it truly is the best selling game in March, which again is the point in the artice. Yet it's not a "featured game", instead they put Rehash Vegas 2 and Crappy Army of Two?

Nintendo_Man
Nintendo_Man

One again it the analysts got it wrong, calling the Brawl a casual game only shows us that he still doesn't know much about the industry.

Pete5506
Pete5506

This is good, just keep the good games coming