Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson today released his predictions for the industry-tracking NPD Group's October US retail sales figures, and they included a rare bonus: optimism. After seeing software sales slide in seven of the first nine months of the year, Wilson believes October's numbers will be up a healthy 15 percent year-over-year to $660 million.
Wilson said the gains will be made thanks in part to a relatively easy comparison against October 2009, when sales were led by the PlayStation 3-excluisve Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, with 537,000 sold, followed by Wii Fit Plus (441,000 sold) and Take-Two's multiplatform shooter Borderlands (418,000 sold). This October, Wilson believes a number of the best-selling new releases topped Uncharted 2's performance, estimating that Medal of Honor sold 1.25 million copies, with Fallout: New Vegas moving 850,000 games and Fable III another 700,000. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 was pegged at 500,000 copies sold, while the Michael Jordan-fronted NBA 2K11 took advantage of the benching of EA and Sony basketball sims to sell 800,000 copies.
If Wilson's predictions pan out, it would be the most significant software sales growth of the year to date. Monthly software sales have only been up twice so far in 2010: in March, when new releases God of War III, Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Final Fantasy XIII spurred 10 percent sales growth, and in May, when Red Dead Redemption topped 1.5 million copies sold in its first month and pushed software revenue up 4 percent.
Looking a bit further ahead, Wilson projects software sales for November to be flat year-over-year or up slightly. He expects Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood to post roughly the same number of combined sales as their predecessors from 2009, with upside potential from stronger second-month sales of this year's October releases, as well as a boost from Kinect titles.
Despite possible gains in October and November, Wilson expects the fourth quarter to finish down overall, suggesting a disappointing December for game sales. The analyst pointed to a decline in sales for Nintendo platforms (both in first-party and third-party titles) as a driving factor for his prediction.
NPD's October sales figures are expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.