Analysts expect big November numbers

Wedbush Morgan and The simExchange prognosticators believe last month's US retail game software sales topped $1 billion.

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Few would argue that it hasn't been a fantastic year for games, and November was far and away the biggest month of the year when it came to new releases. Considering that the month welcomed the launches of Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, Rock Band, Crysis, Assassin's Creed, Need for Speed ProStreet, and Unreal Tournament III, a pair of analysts is expecting November's software sales to obliterate November 2006's game software sales tally of $804 million.

Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter pegged November's game sales at $1 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year. In addition to the new releases and continued sales of catalog titles such as Guitar Hero III and Madden NFL 08, Pachter points to the NPD's reporting period as a reason for bigger numbers this year. Last November, the reporting period for the month cut off two days after Thanksgiving, the unofficial start of the frenzied US holiday shopping season. This year, the NPD's November reporting period ended nine days after the key holiday.

The simExchange prediction market paints an even rosier picture of November game sales, suggesting that the industry's software will actually be up 42 percent to $1.15 billion. According to the market, this month won't be a slouch of any sort either. The simExchange is projecting record-setting December software sales of $2.39 billion.

"Although consumer spending has slowed down this quarter with many retailers reporting disappointing results, video games are largely inelastic to consumer income," simExchange analyst Jesse Divnich said of the figures. "The market’s forecast for November and December confirms the belief that video games are a safe haven business in slower consumer spending environments."

On the hardware front, Pachter believe the Wii and PlayStation 3 both doubled their sales from the previous November, when both systems launched in the US. He expects Wii sales for the month to total 950,000 (compared to 476,000 at launch), while the PS3 improves on last year's 197,000 units sold to reach sales of 420,000. Pachter's projected Xbox 360 increase is closer to 50 percent, with Microsoft's system selling 750,000 units, as opposed to last November's 511,000.

The simExchange hardware figures were largely in line with Pachter's, although the prediction market expects that the Wii sold just over a million units in November, followed by the Xbox 360 with 728,000, and the PlayStation 3 with 410,000. On the portable front, the simExchange projected a whopping 1.3 million Nintendo DS systems sold, with 468,000 PlayStation Portables following suit.

NPD US hardware and software sales figures for November are expected to be released Thursday afternoon.

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