US games sales drop 19%

Overall sales in the U.S. tipped just over $1 billion in October, down from $1.32 billion in 2008. Hardware sales were down 18% from $497 to $381 with software down 17% from $698 to $573. Accessories dipped by 2% to $119.

In a posting released Thursday afternoon, NPD group analyst Anita Frazier noted, "The continued economic turmoil, and in particular the troubling unemployment rate, is undoubtedly impacting industry sales. Although consumers’ general opinion about the economy is improving, their outlook on their own personal situation is worsening. If consumers’ personal outlook continues to erode, they could very well be much more conservative with their holiday shopping this year."

But Frazier was upbeat about performance overall, "This is the third best October on record, behind 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-$21B in the U.S., which would put it just a bit below last year’s sales of $21.3B."

Hardware sales were down 17% in units for the month, with the Wii and the Xbox 360 decreasing the most compared to October 2008. October 2009 was a four week month, compared to five weeks in 2008. Even so, Wii, PSP and DS sales increased on an average sales per week basis, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 declined.

Wii sold 506K units followed by DS (457K); PS3 (321K); Xbox 360 (249K); PSP (174K) and PS2 (118K).

Frazier noted, "Year-to-date, the hardware category has experienced the sharpest decline in the industry, with unit sales down 10% compared to the same time period last year. 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. It will be difficult to discern the impact of the price cut into November and December just because those are always the two best months for the industry anyway, and we’d expect to see a sizeable lift in hardware unit sales as a result of seasonality."

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves captured the top spot for software sales, selling 537K units. Wii Fit Plus came in second, though roughly half the sales were generated by the bundled SKU. The top game for the month across all platforms was NBA 2K10, at 575K units. Borderlands sold 418K with Forza Motorsport 3 selling 213K. Other entries in he top ten were Halo 3: ODST (271K); Kingdom Hearts on DS (169K) and FIFA Soccer (156K)

The music/dance genre saw big declines this month compared to last year. The genre generated $53 million in sales as compared to $137 million last year despite high profile launches such as Rock Band: Beatles, and Guitar Hero 5 in September.

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