Plummeting hardware sales are leading the NPD Group's downward slant of US gaming industry figures, with August's $515.6 million in total sales down by 20 percent year-over-year, the same decline observed in July.
Hardware sales totaled $150.6 million for the period from July 29 to August 25, a dip of 39 percent. Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's director of programming, said the Xbox 360 led the slowing home console race for the 20th consecutive month by moving 193,000 units. On the bright side, game sales fell only 9 percent over the same period, led by THQ's Darksiders II. Other new releases to breach the NPD's top 10 were New Super Mario Bros. 2 at number two, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance at number three, Sleeping Dogs at number six, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron at number seven.
Call of Duty: Black Ops outlived its successor Modern Warfare 3, with the former coming in at number eight and the latter dropping off the chart from July when it held number nine. Total retail sales for game software came in at $237.7 million.
NPD analyst Anita Frazier said none of the platforms available in August 2011 saw sales increases. However, both the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 3 moved more units in August than they did in July this year; 44 percent of 3DS sales came from the 3DS XL, which launched August 19.
"One factor contributing to the softness we have seen in retail content sales so far in 2012 has been the decline in the sheer number of new titles [which was not the case in August]," Frazier said. "So, what we're seeing impact August results is the domino effect of the light release schedule from earlier in the year. That lack of new releases has had a significant impact on subsequent month's sales."
The lightest decline was marked at 9 percent in game accessories, which includes items like point or subscription cards and Skylanders action figures as well as controllers. Accessory sales totaled $237.7 million for the month.
NPD tempered its results, saying they "represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software, and accessories," which it said accounts for roughly half of total video game sales. NPD estimated that would put the full figure at $989 million.
Another report from the NPD Group this week indicated that the US gamer population shrunk by 5 percent from last year, though mobile players grew enough to surpass the core gamer segment.
AUGUST 2012 US GAME SALES (July 29-August. 25)
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $515.6 million (-20%)
Non-PC hardware: $150.6 million (-39%)
Non-PC software: $237.7 million (-9%)
Accessories: $127.3 million (-7%)
Total software: $252.8 million (-11%)
TOP 10 GAMES FOR AUGUST 2012
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Darksiders II (X360, PS3, PC) - THQ
2. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) - Nintendo
3. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (3DS) - Square Enix
4. NCAA Football 13 (X360, PS3) - Electronic Arts
5. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (X360, Wii, 3DS, DS, PS3, PS Vita, PC) - Warner Bros. Interactive
6. Sleeping Dogs (X360, PS3) - Square Enix
7. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (X360, PS3) - Activision Blizzard
8. Batman: Arkham City (X360, PS3, PC) - Warner Bros. Interactive
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops (X360, PS3, PC, DS, Wii) - Activision Blizzard
10. The Amazing Spider-Man (X360, PS3, DS, 3DS, Wii) - Activision Blizzard