US game industry shrinks 19% in Oct., NBA 2K10 tops - NPD

Halloween month saw a scary drop to $1.07 billion in non-PC domestic sales; 2K Sports' basketballer barely beats Borderlands, Uncharted 2 in combined sales; Wii beats PS3.

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After a flat September, US game industry sales posted a double-digit decline last month, according to figures from the NPD Group. From October 4 to October 31, domestic sales of non-PC game hardware, software, and accessories totaled $1.07 billion, down 19 percent from $1.32 billion during the same period the year prior. Despite the decline, the month was the third-best October recorded by NPD, after October 2007 and October 2008.

"Based on typical industry seasonality, the industry is on track to generate full-year revenues in the range of $20-$21 billion in the US, which would put it just a bit below last year's sales of $21.3 billion," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said, before issuing the following note of caution. "The continued economic turmoil, and in particular the troubling unemployment rate, is undoubtedly impacting industry sales. ... If consumers' personal outlook continues to erode, they could very well be much more conservative with their holiday shopping this year."

NBA 2K10 got the drop on October.
NBA 2K10 got the drop on October.

"Across all categories, the Xbox 360 platform contributed the greatest portion of total industry sales, representing 27 percent of total industry sales for the month," said Frazier, referring to sales of hardware, software, and accessories for each console. "The PS3 was a close second at 26 percent, an 8 point improvement over last October."

HARDWARE
Hardware saw the biggest drop, sinking 23 percent to $380.74 million. The top US platform of the month was the newly $199 Wii with 506,900 units sold, followed by the DS with 457,600 units. Some 320,600 PlayStation 3s were sold, followed by the Xbox 360 with 249,700 units and the PSP with 174,600 units. The PlayStation 2, which celebrated its ninth birthday in October, sold 117,800 units.

"Year-to-date, the hardware category has experienced the sharpest decline in the industry, with unit sales down 10 percent compared to the same time period last year," said Frazier. "Recent price cuts helped spur a one- to two-month increase in unit sales, and this month's Wii sales reflect that boost, but the other platforms have not sustained the sales momentum post price reduction."

Borderlands kissed off doubts that the new IP wouldn't sell.
Borderlands kissed off doubts that the new IP wouldn't sell.

SOFTWARE
On the software chart, the top game SKU was the PS3-exclusive Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which sold 537,000 units. Behind it was the fitness game remix Wii Fit Plus, which sold 441,000 units--half of which NPD said were sales of the $100 Balance Board bundle.

In third place with 418,000 units was the 360 edition of Borderlands, the all-new action-role-playing game IP from 2K Games and Gearbox software. However, when the game's 113,000 PS3 units and 15,000 PC units are included, the game's sales total 546,000 units--enough to barely top Uncharted 2's haul.

Fourth place belonged to Wii Sports Resort, followed by the 360 edition of NBA 2K10--the PS3 version of which landed in seventh place. However, all versions of 2K Sports' basketballer--which was also released for the Wii, PSP, PS2, and PC--combined to sell 575,000 units, making it October's top overall game.

Coming in sixth on NPD's top 10 was September's number-one game, Halo 3: ODST. Another Microsoft-published 360 exclusive, Forza MotorSport 3, landed in eighth place, followed by DS returnee Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Bringing up the rear was FIFA Soccer 10, the only version of EA Sport's soccer series to crack the best-seller list in its debut month.

Nathan Drake probably would have had a wisecrack about Uncharted 2's solid sales.
Nathan Drake probably would have had a wisecrack about Uncharted 2's solid sales.

"The top game for the month across all platforms was NBA 2K10, at 575,000 units," said Frazier. "It was a great launch for the game, outselling last year's NBA 2K9 by 60 percent in its launch month. Sales on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms improved substantially over last year."

Unfortunately, it was the same sad song for the rapidly shrinking rhythm genre. "The music/dance genre saw big declines this month compared to last year," explained Frazier. "The genre generated $53 million in sales as compared to $137 million last year. Both Rock Band: Beatles and Guitar Hero 5 have the potential to be good gifting items for the holidays, so we should expect to see an uptick in sales over the next two months."

US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - OCTOBER 2009 (Oct. 4-31)
Hardware: $380.74 million (-23%)
Software: $572.73 million (-18%)
Accessories: $118.88 million (-2%)
Total Games: $1.07 billion (-19%)

TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - OCTOBER 2009
Wii: 506,900
Nintendo DS: 457,600
PlayStation 3: 320,600
Xbox 360: 249,700
PSP: 174,600
PlayStation 2: 117,800

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE SKUs - OCTOBER 2009 (not combined sales)
Title / Publisher / Units**
1) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) / Sony / 537,000
2) Wii Fit Plus (Wii) / Nintendo / 441,000
3) Borderlands (360) / Take-Two / 418,000
4) Wii Sports Resort w/ Wii Motion Plus (Wii) / Nintendo / 314,000
5) NBA 2K10 (360) / Take-Two / 311,000
6) Halo 3: ODST (360) / Microsoft / 271,000
7) NBA 2K10 (PS3) / Take-Two / 213,000
8) Forza Motorsport 3 (360) / Microsoft / 175,000
9) Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS) / Square Enix / 169,000
10) FIFA Soccer 10 (360) / Electronic Arts / 156,000

** = Figures include Collector's Editions and non-hardware bundles.

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