The NPD Group reports that over all sales for the video game industry were down by about 20.3% percent, falling from $1.33 billion last year February to $1.06 billion this year. Last year, hardware and software sales for the month of February were $466.9 million and $637.4 million, respectively. This year they were $381.4 million and $485.7 million, an 18.3% decrease in hardware sales and a 23.8% decrease in software sales.
According to NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier, the Xbox 360 led hardware sales for the seventh consecutive month while all current generation hardware had improved sales by more than 50%. However, older hardware experienced decreases which contributed to the over all drop in hardware sales. She also noted that, although there was an abundance of new releases during the month which performed relatively well, older releases experienced a large drop in sales compared to their data from the previous year. Comparing the two, games launched in 2011 sold 32% less this past February than games that were released in 2010 during the previous February.
Accessories also experienced a decrease in sales of about 16.2%, declining from $256.9 million last year to $215.2 million this year. The different Skylander character packs occupied the entire top three.
Analysis: I find the decrease in older software sales to be normal, considering the number of big-name releases this month. New games are expensive, and gamers that buy games on a fairly regular basis prioritize those over older releases. Because of this, it will result in a decrease in catalogue sales. On the other hand, a decrease over all means that less purchases are being made. I’d wager that this is a result of burnout from the holiday season. Gamers only have so much money, and this past holiday season was quite lucrative for finding good deal.
I’m quite surprised that the 360 is doing so well late in its life. For many years, the Wii was leading the hardware sales. Now that it has declined, I had expected the PS3 to take the lead. Somehow, the 360 has experienced a rise in popularity instead. I wonder if this may be related to a loss of trust in Sony after the hackings of last year, but the validity of NPD reports is not entirely clear, so the effect may not actually be present.
In recent times, even the publishers have been criticizing the NPD data, not only because it only takes a small amount of retail chains and stores into account, but also because the data doesn’t even take digital sales into consideration. This means that large publishers like Valve and EA don’t benefit from the data that NPD provides and may even be impacted by seemingly poor sales data provided through them. However, NPD has promised that they’ll take digital sales into account in the future.