It came as no surprise last week when stat-tracking organizations in the UK and Japan reported respective 7 and 8 percent retail sales declines in those regions during 2011. US retail sales have matched those two regions, as the NPD Group today said in its year-end report that US game industry retail sales fell 8 percent in 2011 to $17.02 billion.
Hardware posted the biggest losses as a percentage in 2011, with sales of gaming-specific console and portable systems amounting to $5.58 billion, down 11 percent year-over-year. NPD placed the Xbox 360 as the best-selling console during the year, with Microsoft touting that its device outpaced the second-place console by some 2.7 million units.
Exact figures were not disclosed. However, NPD analyst Anita Frazier noted that Wii and PlayStation 3 sales "were neck and neck in second place for Annual 2011." She also noted that the Xbox 360 and PS3 were the only systems to experience year-over-year sales increases.
Consumer spending on game software was also down year-over-year, though its exact declines differ depending on what's being measured. Total new software sales at retail--including console, portable, and PC games--amounted to $9.27 billion in 2011, an 8 percent decline over the year prior.
However, that figure slightly improves when factoring in all monetization methods, such as online subscriptions, used games, rentals, and downloadable content. NPD estimates that total consumer spend in this regard amounted to $16.3 billion and $16.6 billion in 2011. That figure is down just 2 percent when compared to the same period in 2010. NPD expects to release its finalized estimate for total consumer spend on software in March.
"Our preliminary estimate for the other monetization methods in which consumers can acquire games content is $7.24 billion for 2011, an increase of 7 percent versus 2010," commented Frazier. "This includes the consumer spend on used games, digital full game and add-on content downloads, mobile games, social network games, subscriptions, and rentals. The increase in these areas partially offset the decline in new physical retail sales of content in 2011."
As was the case with Black Ops in 2010 and Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, Activision's Call of Duty franchise posted the best software sales figures for the year. However, Modern Warfare 3 wasn't the only Call of Duty chart-topper, as last year's Black Ops was the sixth-best-selling game in 2011.
Ubisoft's Just Dance franchise also double-dipped on NPD's chart with Just Dance 3 finishing second and Just Dance 2 charting in ninth. Other top performers included The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (3rd) and Battlefield 3 (4th).
ANNAUL 2011 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $17.02 billion (-8%)
Non-PC hardware: $5.58 billion (-11%)
Non-PC retail software: $8.83 billion (-6%)
Accessories: $2.61 billion (-11%)
Total retail software: $9.27 billion (-8%)
Total all software: $16.3 billion to $16.6 billion (-2%)
TOP 10 RETAIL GAMES FOR 2011
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Activision
2. Just Dance 3 (Wii, X360) - Ubisoft
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (X360, PS3, PC) - Bethesda Softworks
4. Battlefield 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - EA
5. Madden NFL 12 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2) - EA
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops (X360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC) - Activision Blizzard
7. Batman: Arkham City (X360, PS3, PC) - Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
8. Gears of War 3 (X360) - Microsoft
9. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - Ubisoft
10. Assassin's Creed: Revelations (X360, PS3, PC) - Ubisoft