September US game sales slide 8%, hardware down 19% - NPD

Industry-reporting firm's new report format shows steep decline in console, portable sales; Halo: Reach, Madden NFL, Dead Rising 2 top games; PlayStation Move boosts accessories.

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For years, the NPD Group has issued hardware totals as part of its monthly report on US game sales. That changed with today's September report, which saw the industry-research firm withhold a comprehensive tally of how the DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, and Wii fared. Instead, the company reported only overall hardware sales, which fell 19% to $383 million.

However, NPD does not prohibit the big three console makers from saying how many units they sold during the month. So it was little surprise to see Microsoft trumpet the fact that the Xbox 360 was the top console--not including handhelds--for the fourth month in a row. Some 484,000 units sold during the period, an increase of 37 percent year-over-year. As of press time, neither Nintendo nor Sony had issued sales figures for their consoles, but NPD analyst Anita Frazier did shed some light on the matter.

Halo: Reach conquered the competition in September.
Halo: Reach conquered the competition in September.

"Hardware unit sales, with the exception of the Xbox 360, are down versus last September, but a couple other platforms, specifically the PS3 and the PSP are up on an average sales per week basis as compared to last month (August 2010)," she said.

[UPDATE] Analyst reports released on Friday revealed the sales numbers for the Wii and PlayStation 3. The latter sold 312,000 units, a 37 percent decline when compared to brisk post-price drop sales in September 2009. The former sold just 254,000 units, a precipitous 45 percent year-over-year decline. Wedbush analysts blamed the drop on "gamer fatigue" and a lack of major titles for the console.

NPD's overall game sales figures have also changed, thanks to the inclusion of PC game software in the total for the first time. Overall sales of all game software and non-PC hardware and accessories fell 8 percent for the month for a total of $1.22 billion. It was another month of major decline following August's 10 percent slide, although that figure did not include PC software.

On the software side, game sales dropped 5 percent during the month to $655 million. With console and handheld software sales combining for $614 million, that puts the PC game market at $41 million for the month.

Meanwhile, non-PC software declined 6 percent to $614 million despite big sales of Halo: Reach. Though NPD has also stopped offering software unit sales figures, Microsoft was all too happy to declare that the sci-fi shooter had sold 3.3 million units domestically in the two weeks after its September 14 launch.

September also saw NPD change its monthly software chart. Gone are unit sales figures for the top 5, and the top 10 are now for combined sales of an individual title across all platforms, not a single title on a single platform.

Though NPD ceased giving out hardware figures, Microsoft wasn't shy about saying the Xbox 360 was the number one console.
Though NPD ceased giving out hardware figures, Microsoft wasn't shy about saying the Xbox 360 was the number one console.

However, the new system didn't stop the Xbox 360-exclusive Halo 3 from being the top game in the land, even when put against multiplatform games like Madden NFL 11 (360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP) in second and Dead Rising 2 (360, PS3, PC) in third. In fourth place was NHL 11 (360, PS3), followed by FIFA Soccer 11 (360, PS3, PS2, PSP, DS) and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP). Coming in seventh was Mafia II (360, PS3, PC), with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (PS3, 360, DS, Wii) falling in eighth, Metroid: Other M (Wii) in ninth, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360, PS3, PC) bringing up the rear.

The month's sole bright spot was accessories, which saw sales increase 13 percent to $180 million. Frazier credit this in large part to the PlayStation Move, which saw each of its configurations finish in the top 10 accessories chart (which was not provided). The best-selling accessories for the month, however, remained the Xbox Live 1,600-point card and the $20 PlayStation Network card.

SEPTEMBER 2010 US GAME SALES

OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total: $1.22 billion (-8%)
Non-PC total: $1.18 billion (-8%)
Non-PC hardware: $383 million (-19%)
Non-PC software: $614 million (-6%)
Software: $655 million (-5%)
Accessories: $180 million (+13%)

TOP 10 GAMES
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Halo: Reach (360) - Microsoft
2. Madden NFL 11 (360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP) - Electronic Arts
3. Dead Rising 2 (360, PS3, PC) - Capcom
4. NHL 11 (360, PS3) - Electronic Arts
5. FIFA SOCCER 11 (360, PS3, PS2, PSP, NDS) - Electronic Arts
6. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP) - Square Enix Inc
7. Mafia II (360, PS3, PC) - Take 2 Interactive
8. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (PS3, 360, NDS, Wii) - Activision
9. Metroid: Other M (Wii) - Nintendo
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360, PS3, PC) - Activision Blizzard

Source: The NPD Group

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