NPD: Gaming growth slows in August

US retail sales top $1 billion to show 9 percent growth for the month; Madden takes four of top 10 software spots with more than 2 million sold in all.

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Analysts have been warning for months that the explosive growth experienced by the gaming industry this year would slow down as the holiday season approached. The industry-tracking NPD Group released its sales data for the month of August today, and the numbers are starting to prove the analysts right.

According to last month's NPD data, US retailers brought in $1.08 billion in sales for August, up 9 percent from August 2007's total of $995 million. That total was itself a 46 percent jump year over year. Broken down by segment, hardware sales were up 3 percent to $395 million, while software was up 13 percent to nearly $551 million. Accessories kept pace with the games, jumping 13 percent to $137 million.

While analysts predicted a slowdown, it appears to be coming faster than anticipated. Earlier this week, a selection of industry trackers predicted software sales growth for August would be at least 20 percent.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier noted this as the first time in 27 months the industry has shown single-digit growth overall, and said 2008 is still looking strong overall.

"Despite smaller growth this month, the industry is up 32 percent year-to-date and remains on target to achieve annual revenues in the range of $22 to $24 billion," Frazier said.

On the hardware front, Nintendo's DS and Wii once more took the top two positions. The DS finished the month on top with 518,300 in sales, while the Wii trailed with 453,000. The next-best-selling platform for the month was the PlayStation Portable, which sold 253,000 units. Every remaining system failed to break the 200,000 mark, as the Xbox 360 moved 195,200 systems, putting it just above the PlayStation 3's 185,400. Last generation's workhorse, the PlayStation 2, rounded out the field with hardware sales of 144,100.

As expected, Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 09 took the software title, as the gridiron juggernaut occupied four slots on the top 10 list. The Xbox 360 addition topped the charts with 1 million units sold, followed by the PS3 edition in second place (643,000 sold) and the PS2 edition in third (424,500 sold). The Wii version of the game, with its "All Play" focus, managed to make it into ninth place, selling 115,800 copies.

Nintendo chased the main Maddens with its trio of perennial chart-squatters, as Wii Fit took fourth place (394,900 sold), Mario Kart Wii shifted into fifth (328,700 sold), and the Wii Play with Wii Remote bundle slipped to sixth with another 200,200 units sold.

The remaining spots in the top 10 were occupied by seventh place Soulcalibur IV for Xbox 360 (174,000 sold), Silicon Knights' Norse-inspired Xbox 360 action game Too Human (168,200 sold) in eighth, and Guitar Hero: On Tour for the Nintendo DS hitting the 10 spot with 111,200 sold.

US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - AUGUST 2008
Software: $550.7M (+13%)
Hardware: $394.5M (+3%)
Accessories: $137.3M (+13%)
Total Games: $1.08B (+9%)

TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - AUGUST 2008
Nintendo DS--518,300
Wii--453,000
PlayStation Portable--253,000
Xbox 360--195,200
PlayStation 3--185,400
PlayStation 2--144,100

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE - AUGUST 2008
Title / Publisher / Units*
1) Madden NFL 09 (Xbox 360) / Electronic Arts / 1,000,000
2) Madden NFL 09 (PS3) / Electronic Arts / 643,000
3) Madden NFL 09 (PS2) / Electronic Arts / 424,500
4) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (WII) / Nintendo / 394,900
5) Mario Kart Wii w/ Wheel (WII) / Nintendo / 328,700
6) Wii Play w/ Remote (WII) / Nintendo / 200,200
7) Soulcalibur IV (Xbox 360) / Namco Bandai / 174,000
8) Too Human (Xbox 360) / Microsoft / 168,200
9) Madden NFL 09 (Wii) / Electronic Arts / 115,800
10) Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS) / Activision Blizzard / 111,200

* Figures include Collector's Editions and non-hardware bundles.

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