For gamers, Halo 3 generated huge buzz in the weeks and months leading up to its release. For industry watchers and analysts, it's more interesting to follow the weeks and months after the game hit shelves.
The industry-tracking NPD Group today released its domestic retail sales figures for the September period (which actually stretched into October), and Halo 3 posted some massive sales figures. In its first 12 days on sale, Microsoft's sci-fi first-person shooter sold 3.3 million copies in the US alone. NPD didn't break down how many copies each of the three versions of the game sold, but did note that they took the top three spots on the software charts, with the $59.99 regular edition first, the $69.99 limited edition second, and the $129.99 legendary edition (complete with replica Master Chief helmet) third.
It appears that many of the hordes of gamers who claimed that they were just waiting for Halo 3 to invest in an Xbox 360 were true to their words. Microsoft sold nearly 528,000 Xbox 360s in September, enough to dethrone the Wii and DS from the top of the charts. Nintendo's motion-sensitive console came in second with 501,000 sold, with the DS close behind in third with about 496,000 sold.
[UPDATE] However, Nintendo was quick to point out one fact about the NPD September numbers. "One thing you guys forgot is that it's our biggest month yet of the year for the Wii," outgoing vice president of communications Perrin Kaplan told GameSpot. "In fact, it's our biggest month since we launched the Wii." Indeed, September 2007 saw more Wiis scooped up by US consumer than the 476,000 units sold in November 2006, when the platform launched.
The PlayStation Portable welcomed a hardware redesign that sparked sales of almost 285,000, whereas the PlayStation 2 kept trucking at 215,000 sold. The PlayStation 3 brought up the rear, tallying sales just over 119,000 amid rumors of the just-announced $399 40GB PS3 and $100 price drop of the 80GB model.
As one might expect given those numbers, industry-wide revenues for the month were up sharply. US retailers as a whole sold $1.36 billion worth of non-PC game software, hardware, and accessories in September, 74 percent more than they managed over the same stretch last year. Hardware sales were particularly strong, with September console sales of $418.6 million, which is 188 percent greater than last year. Sales of handhelds were also up, though not as drastically. Retailers took in 28 percent more in portable hardware sales than last year, for a total of more than $126.2 million.
Console software revenue for the month was up 64 percent over September 2006, landing at $550.5 million. Portable software was not so fortunate, sliding 6 percent year-over-year to $103.1 million.
Recent months have been so good for the industry that NPD analyst Anita Frazier upped her expectations for the industry's 2007 revenue total.
"Although we've been confident for many months now that the industry was poised to realize its best year ever in terms of revenue, the results in recent months make me even more bullish," Frazier said in a statement. "I believe the U.S. video games industry will realize somewhere in the range of $17 to $18 billion for the year."
Top 10 best-selling games of September 2007, according to NPD Group
Halo 3 (all versions)--Xbox 360--3.3 million
Wii Play with Wii Remote--Wii--282,000
The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass--DS--224,000
Madden NFL 08--PS2--205,000
Madden NFL 08--Xbox 360--173,000
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption--Wii--167,000
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day--DS--141,000
September 2007 hardware sales, according to NPD Group