Analyst predicts sunny September NPD report

Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson expects sales figures to be 19 percent higher than last year; raises 2006 total growth projection to nearly 10 percent.

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The gaming industry has strung a few solid months of sales together, with double-digit year-over-year percentage increases in revenue for June, July, and August. Although the industry-tracking NPD Group's numbers for September aren't expected to be revealed until late next week, one analyst is already saying it's going to be another big month.

Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson released an industry overview this week that pegs the US gaming software sales for September at $412 million, a 19 percent increase from the same month last year.

"The growth is attributed to resurgent spending on PS2, significant growth in the Nintendo DS, the addition of Xbox 360 sales, and very easy comparisons," Wilson said in his overview.

Last year's September sales were dominated by EA Sports titles, with Madden NFL 06 retaining the top spot from its August release, and NBA Live 06, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06, NASCAR 06, and Activision's X-Men Legends II being the biggest sellers. This year's EA Sports offerings will likely face competition on the September charts from LucasArts' Lego Star Wars II and THQ's Saints Row, which Wilson believes sold more than 350,000 copies during the month.

Wilson also revised his expectations for the industry's total software take for the year. Previously, he had expected a modest growth of 3.7 percent over 2005. Now, he's a little more bullish, predicting console, handheld, and PC game sales to jump 9.6 percent to $7.69 billion. "The launch of the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PlayStation 3 and very easy year-over-year comparisons for the balance of 2006 should drive the growth, in our view," Wilson said.

As for how much the new systems will contribute to the software sales total, Wilson expects the Wii to move more software but not by a tremendous amount. For the year, he estimates PS3 software sales will clock in around $184 million, with the Wii tally amounting to $221 million. By comparison, the Xbox 360, which Microsoft launched last November, racked up a 2005 software sales total of $141 million. Wilson expects the console's US game sales to clock in at $1.32 billion this year.

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