NPD: US game industry could hit $18B in '07

Analyst Anita Frazier points to booming August as evidence the GTAIV delay won't keep records from being broken.


Yesterday, the NPD Group reported that nearly 1 billion dollars of game software, hardware, and accessories were sold in the US in August. Year to date, combined US non-PC sales for 2007 totaled $8.02 billion, up $2.42 billion from $5.6 billion during the same period in 2006. The year's first eight months saw consumers in the 50 states buy $3.1 billion in hardware, $3.8 billion in software, and $1.1 billion in accessories.

The August NPD report beat analysts' expectations, and made many optimistic about the forthcoming holiday season. No one is more upbeat than NPD's own Anita Frazier, who believes that despite several high-profile delays such as Grand Theft Auto IV, 2007 will still be one for the record books.

"The industry is up by nearly 50 percent," she told GameSpot. "The back part of the year would have to fall apart to not have a record-breaking year. I think we'll end in the range of $16 to $18 billion in the US."

Frazier also weighed in on several ongoing trends and forthcoming releases. She predicts no real relief from the ongoing shortage of Wii consoles until next year. "Very simply, demand is still meeting or exceeding supply," she said. "I think we'll see this situation continue through the holidays, and we may see some balancing starting February 2008."

NPD's top game analyst also thinks that the forthcoming clash between rhythm games Rock Band and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock won't be much of a clash at all. "The rock music premise of an experience with such broad appeal, I think they can coexist in the market nicely," Frazier surmised.

Last but not least, Frazier agrees with the widespread sentiment that game publishers are hurting themselves by jam-packing the holiday season with releases. "If a title is big enough and buzz is strong, it will sell any time of the year," she asserted. "There is no need for strong titles to rely on Q4. Some less strong titles may want to ride the wave of retail dollars that flow in particularly in November and December, and that is a legitimate marketing tactic. But strong titles should not fear other release windows, and it can be very beneficial to have some breathing room."

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