While professional gaming analysts are all paid to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear upon the state of the industry, they frequently look at the same market and come to different conclusions. Not so this week, as the industry-tracking NPD Group is expected to release its US retail sales figures for August on Thursday, and four prominent analysts are all predicting more or less the same results in investors notes.
Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian and Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson both settled on expectations of 20 percent growth in software sales for the month, while Electronic Entertainment Design and Research's Jesse Divnich put the uptick at 21 percent. Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter was the most bullish of the group, suggesting game sales would jump 23 percent. Given last August's $488 million in software sales, those predictions would put the expected software tally between $585 million and just over $600 million.
Sales weren't the only thing the group agreed on. They all mentioned the explosive growth of last year's September-through-December period, and noted that it would be more difficult for the industry to post the same kind of year-over-year software sales jumps that have been seen thus far in 2008. Wilson suggested that in September at least, that could be offset for retailers by a strong slate of PC releases including Spore, Crysis Warhead, Warhammer Online, and Civilization: Colonization. However, he also noted that monthly NPD numbers don't include PC game sales.
As for the month's biggest release, Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 09, all four indicated that this year's installment of the football franchise has been stopped for little or no gain. According to their own checks, sales of the game were about the same as Madden NFL 08, leaving EA to rely on Rock Band and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 to drive sales growth for the month.