Last month marked a longtime low for the game industry, with the NPD Group reporting that monthly US retail game sales hit their lowest point since October 2006. The industry-tracking firm today released its August sales report, revealing another exceedingly rare occurrence. For the first time this century, Electronic Arts' Madden franchise has not topped the NPD's August sales chart.
Because the annual football sim was released later than normal on August 30, it missed the NPD Group's August reporting window, contributing to a drastic decline of 23 percent for total game industry retail sales. Hardware, software, and accessories combined for $669.9 million in the US for August, down from $873.8 million the year before, and down even from July's notable low of $707.7 million.
Software was down the most, with the absence of Madden contributing to sales shrinking 37 percent to $285.9 million. And while the NPD Group noted that hardware sales were up month-over-month on a unit basis (thanks in part to price cuts for the PlayStation 3 and 3DS hardware), system sales were still down 12 percent compared to the previous August.
As for what did sell, Square Enix's franchise prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution took the top spot on the charts in its debut month, stiff-arming EA Sports' other football offering, NCAA 12, to second place. In its 10th month of release, Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops was the third-best-selling game, with Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D the only other title targeted at core crowds to make the charts, finishing in ninth overall.
NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier offered a silver lining to the month's numbers, saying Call of Duty: Black Ops map packs and the release of Fruit Ninja Kinect helped drive digital sales.
"Even though year to date performance of the new physical portion of the industry is down 5 percent, more than half of industry sales in this channel are still to be realized in the back four months of the year," Frazier said. "Given the strong release schedule in the coming months, new physical retail sales could still be flat to slightly up once full year sales are tallied."
AUGUST 2011 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $669.9 million (-23%)
Total non-PC retail sales: $648.9 million (-21%)
Non-PC hardware: $249.4 million (-12%)
Non-PC software: $264.8 million (-34%)
Accessories: $134.7 million (-1%)
Total software: $285.9 million (-37%)
TOP 10 GAMES FOR AUGUST 2011
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (360, PS3, PC) - Square Enix
2. NCAA Football 2012 (360, PS3) - Electronic Arts
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC) - Activision Blizzard
4. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (NDS, Wii, PS3) - Disney Interactive Studios
5. Cars 2 (DS, Wii, 360, PS3, PC) - Disney Interactive Studios
6. Just Dance Summer Party (Wii) - Ubisoft
7. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - Ubisoft
8. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Wii, 360, NDS, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC) - Disney Interactive Studios
9. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS) - Nintendo
10. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Wii, 360, PS3) - Majesco