As had been predicted, the US game industry saw the second month of double-digit year-on-year shrinkage last month, according to figures just released by the NPD Group. The research firm reported only $1.03 billion in April retail sales of non-PC hardware, software, and accessories, a decline of 17 percent--the same percentage as in March.
But while many will pin the blame on the global economic crisis, analysts peg the decline on the gangbusters business done in April 2008. Echoing the statements of other industry cognoscenti earlier in the week, NPD's Anita Frazier said that system-selling hits like Mario Kart Wii and Grand Theft Auto IV skewed the year-over-year comparison.
"While April sales might appear soft on the surface, it's important to remember that April is being compared against a month (April 2008) that realized nearly 50 percent growth over April 2007," said Frazier. "This year's performance still represents the second-best performance for the industry in the month of April, besting April 2007, which is the previous second-place holder, by 26 percent."
"Given how strong the growth was in the industry last year, there are still some months ahead where year-over-year comparisons may be difficult, but May should be an easier comparison than the last two months have been."
While overall hardware sales sank 8 percent to $391.63 million last month, the charts saw one platform crush the competition. Thanks to the April 6 launch of the new DSi handheld, overall DS sales exceeded 1.03 million units--nearly three times the Wii's 340,000 units. In third place was the Xbox 360 with 175,000 units, followed by the PlayStation 2, which got a boost from its dead-serious April Fools' Day price drop to $99. In fourth place was the PlayStation 3 with 127,000 units, followed by the PSP with 116,000 units--nearly a tenth of its portable foe's.
The Big N also cast a long shadow over the month's software sales, which totaled $510.74 million--a decrease of 23 percent. The company's first-party games took the top four slots in the form of Wii Fit (1st, 471,000 units), Pokemon Platinum (2nd, 433,000 units), Mario Kart Wii (3rd, 210,000 units), and glorified Wii Remote pack-in Wii Play (4th, 170,000 units). It scored again lower down on the chart with two DS games over two years old--2006's New Super Mario Bros. (7th, 119,000 units) and 2005's Mario Kart DS (8th, 112,000 units).
On the third-party front, Electronic Arts' Godfather II overcame acrid reviews to whack fifth place (360, 155,000 units) and 10th place (PS3, 91,000 units). The 360 edition of last month's big game, Capcom's Resident Evil 5, zombie-shuffled into sixth place with 122,000 units, with the 360 version of Gutiar Hero Aerosmith--which had been severely discounted by retailers such as Best Buy--coming in ninth with 110,000 units.
US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - APRIL 2009
Software: $510.74M (-23%)
Hardware: $391.63M (-8%)
Accessories: $129.45M (-15%)
Total Games: $1.03B (-17%)
TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - APRIL 2009
Nintendo DS: 1.04M
Xbox 360: 175,000
PlayStation 2: 172,000
PlayStation 3: 127,000
TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE SKUs - APRIL 2009
Title / Publisher / Units**
1) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (Wii) / Nintendo / 471,000
2) Pokemon Platinum (DS) / Nintendo / 433,000
3) Mario Kart Wii with Wheel (Wii) / Nintendo / 210,000
4) Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) / Nintendo / 170,000
5) The Godfather II (360) / EA / 155,000
6) Resident Evil 5 (360) / Capcom / 122,000
7) New Super Mario Bros. (DS) / Nintendo / 119,000
8) Mario Kart DS (DS) / Nintendo / 112,000
9) Guitar Hero Aerosmith (360) / Activision Blizzard / 110,000
10) The Godfather II (PS3) / EA / 91,000
** = Figures include Collector's Editions and non-hardware bundles.