August US game sale slide predicted

Analysts disagree on depth of dip; Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter expects single-digit declines in US retail software sales as Pacific Crest's Evan Wilson projects 18% drop.

Given the industry's prolonged sales struggles this year, the question for analysts isn't, "Are you pessimistic?" It's, "Are you pessimistic enough?" Wedbush's Michael Pachter and Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson today released their August NPD Group sales expectations to investors, offering two divergent--but still dismal--outlooks on the game industry's performance for the month.

Madden reigned in August, but the NPD numbers could still be a cold shower for hopeful industry watchers.

When the industry-tracking NPD Group releases its August retail sales figures on Thursday, Pachter believes the firm will find software sales were down 6 percent year-over-year to $445 million, with hardware revenues slipping about 3 percent to roughly $289 million. On the other hand, Wilson expects software sales to be down a whopping 18 percent to $385 million.

One of the main reasons for the expected decline on both fronts was the stellar August 2009 debut of Batman: Arkham Asylum. While Electronic Arts already touted a 5 percent bump in sales for Madden NFL 11--likely August's biggest release--Pachter believes that August of 2009's one-two punch of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Wii Sports Resort will prove more than last month's debuts of Mafia II and Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days can match. While Wilson also pointed to the month's release slate as a primary factor, he did say Mafia II should lead new release sales alongside Madden 11.

Other titles that Pachter singled out as notable performers for last month were Red Dead Redemption, NCAA Football 11, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Wii Fit Plus. While Nintendo's latest evergreen Wii titles continue contributing to the industry's haul, Pachter said the system's overall software sales were "driving most of the decline" for August, down 30 percent in total.

"While August will likely be another down month, we expect a meaningful rebound in September (due to the release of Halo Reach and the Move controller) and we expect to see evidence of a sustainable rebound in the following months, as the game lineup in October and November is very strong," Pachter said. "We expect modest sales gains in each month to help restore confidence in the sector."

Wilson was less rosy about September's prospects. He acknowledged that the combination of Halo Reach, the Move controller, and Nintendo's recent DS price cuts makes the month "the best opportunity for growth since May," but also noted the industry faces a tough comparison versus September 2009. Halo: ODST sold very well last September, he noted, and the month saw multiple weeks' worth of sales for The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5. This year, there is no Rock Band release in September and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will launch at the very end of the month.

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Discussion

97 comments
Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

@seriousplayer_d--you know what I find over-rated? YOUR favorite games! It doesn't matter what you say it is, I will say that. The point is that it is just opinions.

seriousplayer_d
seriousplayer_d

sorry giuys but i also find the Halo series overrated.

AverageGamer99
AverageGamer99

I always wonder even if a Xbox720 or Ps4 came out, wouldn't the games from thier previous consoles prices stay right where they are since Ps2 games have basically nothing close to them, so they could sell them at thier same price still?

stziggy
stziggy

I guess returning games to a $50 price point is out of the question.

damo320
damo320

This Wilson character is clueless. He's comparing the ODST sales to Reach. Everyone knew ODST was not a fully fledged game like Reach. I guess knowing what you're talking about is not a requirement for being an analyst.

aliasghar96
aliasghar96

Cod black ops is outselling mw2 in preorders on both xbox and ps3. Halo reach outsold mw2 on 360 on preorders too. Good year but I m not going to buy cod black ops. In fact, I m not buying any shooter other than reach this year. Already have bfbc2.

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

@ T_Money420 Well put my friend. Well put.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

@Knightarce---"decent games" is a matter of opinion. I grant you that Madden is decided US focused, but the others are better than just "money making clones". At least no more so than any other sequel. However--as for Madden--considering this News item is about NPD--which is a measure of US sales, I think Madden is a pretty important release for the month. August is often pretty slow because people know Madden is coming out and basically avoid it.

Knightarce
Knightarce

@Mr_Bodywave ok I meant decent games, im not going to knock madden as I have never played it but as someone from outside the USA (England) I couldn't care less and would be extremely suprised if it sold more than 5-10k copies here. now on to kane and lynch 2 and mafia 2, these are just money making clones of games that came before them and not adding anything new in genres that are increasingly boring, and the cover and shoot mechanic is just thrown into these games without much thought, compare mafia to gears or SC:C. furthermore i doubt many people who use gamespot were excited about wii sports resort

jad206
jad206

The last new game I bought was Borderlands back in October. Wait...did any new games come out after that?

Quietpower09
Quietpower09

Valkyria Chronicles 2 had saved me from August boredom. :P

Swavo69420
Swavo69420

It's been slow since Red Dead... I've only bought NCAA and Madden since then and my next purchase will be Fallout: New Vegas which is another month+ away... Can't wait til November (GT5 and COD: BO) and 2011...

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

Games like Red Dead didn't get enough publicity about how great the story was... SC2 is catered to a very specific market in which casual gamers usually won't want it because of the competitive history All in all, PS3 games don't get the proper recognition they should either.

advanracer
advanracer

Every 3 years...game sales skyrocket...take for example the Gears of War franchise... they release a new game every 3 years.

fattass21
fattass21

i think not enough good games have come out this year, thats why i think its declined. nothing to do with people not buying games. there just wasnt enough games that people wanted to buy this year. ill be as bold to say that, next year we will see a jump in games sales. because if you think about it, there is a hell load of games coming out next year. killzone, fable, gears, portal, next starcraft games, ace combat(i think XD), batman, cyrsis, and much more. and didnt valve also say they had some surprises in the mix? maybe ep3? ill say it again, ill be bold enough to say that it will increase again.

atopp399
atopp399

Everybody must have been waiting for the Playstation Move to release...

donalbane
donalbane

I didn't buy anything in August despite my plans to do so prior to playing the Mafia 2 demo. I got some DLC add ons for some existing games I had, and am currently enjoying Limbo, but other than that, I think this Summer really sucked for games overall. I purchased fewer games this past summer than any in recent memory.

zombiechopper
zombiechopper

Nothing to do with the fact Aug was crap for games this year, except for a couple of exceptions.

starbright_2012
starbright_2012

I'm sure Michael Pachter is a really intelligent, friendly and stand up kind of guy...but can we please stop hearing about him and his "predictions ?" This news is pretty irrelevant to us, the gaming community. We have eyes and ears too.

T_Money420
T_Money420

Sales are always lower in the summer because some ppl don't have their lives revolve around video games. I actually take the time to enjoy my summers since I live in Michigan, which means I don't spend all day everyday in my room full of halo posters eating potato chips while I run around in 1st person shooting things. Plus, holidays such as Christmas are always a factor to help selling games... So were they posting this hoping all the nerds that saw this go out and buy games to stimulate this? lmao!

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

The industry is simply facing a backlash from the lack of any of those high-selling,mass-appealing games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. Not like we need more of them. We've had more than enough of them already.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

@Knightarce--no big games? Madden, Kane & Lynch 2, Mafia 2. Last year was Batman: AA and wii sports resort. I think those count.

Knightarce
Knightarce

August is the month where they don't release any big games because the industry feels people deserve to go outside for a bit and enjoy their real lives and get a bit of sunlight , bit of a fail in england tho as august's weather was crap

faceman4523
faceman4523

Did Starcraft 2 really flop? I thought it was selling amazing numbers the first week, although I didn't really follow it because I couldn't care less. I'm not really all that big on Blizzard charging people $180 for the 3 "parts" of Starcraft 2.

tu2pac
tu2pac

What games came out in Aug?

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

What amazes me is that news is always about how poorly the game sector is doing. That is not true. The fact is Wii (and DS lately) are doing poorly and that is dragging the rest down. xbox360 is up. PS3 is up. Both of them are up year over year. PS3 by large numbers. and their softwawre is up too. It is only Nintendo that is down. Wii is crashing and dragging the whole sector with it. Screw that--state the truth--that the Wii fad is crashing. Wii will be down 30% y/y for the year.

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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

acasero44
acasero44

well Starcraft 2 was a big flop no wonder The game failed at every level.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@brown_flame thats a horrible argument considering how many people love generic crap "cough" COD ;D

Pete5506
Pete5506

The start of fall is almost here, game sales are only going to go up

Seiki_sands
Seiki_sands

Looking at last year's September-end of year on consoles: Reach crushes ODST's sales. Gran Turismo 5 and NFS: HP2 Obliterate Forza's and NFS: Shift's sales. Black Ops and MoH combined should be able to match MW2. I don't see why Rock Band 3 & Guitar Hero 6 shouldn't do as well as Beatles and Guitar Hero 5. Donkey Kong Country, Epic Mickey, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Goldeneye and Sonic Colors combined should certainly match last year's NSMB Wii, Mario & Sonic: Winter Games, and A Boy and His Blob. And you would think Fable III, Little Big Planet 2, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Fallout: New Vegas, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Enslaved, Vanquished, Force Unleashed 2, Kinect & Move can be a match for Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2, Brutal Legend, Tekken 6 and Uncharted 2. This month might be lower and that month might be higher, but for the season the games are there, whether people can afford to buy them...

brown_flame
brown_flame

how is this a surprise ? the industry is losing its creativity and is mass producing generic titles. not to mention games that feel unfinished.

karloss01
karloss01

in other words: Analysts point out the obvious... again.

organbank
organbank

Not a surprise considering the absolute crap that has been released this year. I think developers should flood the market with even more generic FPS games. That will solve the problem....

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

October and November should do pretty well. Fallout New Vegas is on my must buy. Fable 3, MOH, and the next COD are on my maybe list. Civ 5 comes out this month. Plus, multiple DLC's from Mass Effect 2, Borderlands, and Dragon Age. I a game a month isn't too bad.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

meh, dont care All i care about is getting the games i want to get

drokmore
drokmore

Why do they always worry about month to month sales. Theres some huge titles coming out that will sell like crazy.Gaming development takes some time and not every month is going to be a killer.

Lotus-Edge
Lotus-Edge

I think Reach will sale just as well, if not better, than ODST, The Beatles: Rock Band, and Guitar Hero 5....

Bungiehalo
Bungiehalo

as far i remember, there is usually aren't much games release following trade shows like E3 and such. plus Fall always seems to be the most popular time to release games... or maybe its just games that I like... lol

Tarmac_Hunter
Tarmac_Hunter

August is traditionally a slow month anyway, so how is this news?

Wula_
Wula_

Everyone knows if you were a smart buyer you would have bought a ton of games at the beginning of July when everyone was doing specials. Now people are sitting down and enjoying all those games they bought back then. So why would they feel like they have to buy more now?

daman246
daman246

halo is an overhyped series the crap inst even that fun u gus tell me whats so good about halom halo 3 was trash

iiIsSueZ
iiIsSueZ

August sucked because nothing came out! Even I predicted that one.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

September will be huge because of Halo: Reach, which will sell a whole lot more than ODST did last September. Other than that, though, I don't know how well the rest of the months will stack up to last year; October and December are kind of barren, while November's Call of Duty: Black Ops will have a tough time comparing to last year's Modern Warfare 2 in the sales department.