September's underwhelming 1 percent growth aside, the NPD Group's monthly sales reports have portrayed a slumping US retail gaming industry for most of 2009. While that malaise wasn't limited to America, it wasn't quite universal, either.
According to data compiled by the NPD Group (US), GfK Chart-Track Limited (UK), and Enterbrain (Japan), the three largest game markets for the July-September quarter had dipped 6 percent year-over-year. The UK suffered the steepest decline with a 19 percent year-over-year drop in the number of games sold. The US was also down for the quarter, with retailers selling 9 percent fewer games, while Japan actually saw its software sales surge 15 percent over the same period in 2008.
The bigger picture in Japan is a little less positive, as the report noted that year-to-date sales in the country are still down 9 percent despite the booming quarter. Much of the Japanese growth can be attributed to the massive success of Square Enix's Dragon Quest IX in the country. Despite being available only in Japan at the moment, the DS title was far and away the best-selling game across all three countries for the quarter, selling nearly 3.93 million copies.
Interestingly, three of the top five best-selling games received all or the vast majority of their sales from a single country. Like Dragon Quest IX, Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver was available only in Japan, and the 2.07 million sold in the island country was enough to land the game in fourth place on the charts. Finally, Madden NFL 10 made it to third place on the strength of 2.58 million copies sold in the US. The American football game was also available in the UK, where consumers added a scant 30,000 copies to its tally.
There were a pair of legitimately international hits on the combined chart, with Wii Sports Resort and its 3.01 million sold between the US, UK, and Japan good enough to play runner-up to Dragon Quest IX. The Xbox 360-exclusive Halo 3: ODST rounded out the top five with 1.85 million sold. While it received contributions from each country, ODST sold a whopping 1.52 million in the American market, with Japanese gamers snatching up only 33,000 copies, and UK consumers contributing an extra 294,000 to the shooter's sales. In October, Microsoft declared the game had sold 2.5 million units worldwide.
The combined quarterly numbers were released to promote Top Global Markets, a monthly international reporting service offered by NPD, GfK, and Enterbrain.
Best-selling games for July-September 2009
Title--Total sold--US sales--Japan sales--UK sales
1. Dragon Quest IX--3,925,000--N/A--3,925,000--N/A
2. Wii Sports Resort--3,014,000--1,708,000--841,000--465,000
3. Madden NFL 10--2,612,000--2,583,000--N/A--30,000
4. Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver--2,068,000--N/A--2,068,000--N/A
5. Halo 3: ODST--1,847,000--1,521,000--33,000--294,000