Analyst: Game console sales plummeted in June

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says that he expects NPD to report hardware unit sales down 21 percent compared to the same period last year.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter today offered up a dismal estimate on June game industry sales.

The analyst said that Microsoft led the way in console sales last month, selling 355,000 Xbox 360 units in the U.S. However, that figure is down 21 percent compared to the same period last year. In Pachter's note to investors, he said that the Nintendo Wii scored the second spot in unit sales with 325,000 sold, representing a 23 percent decline compared to June 2010. Pachter believes Sony suffered a 21 percent drop in unit sales last month by selling 240,000 PlayStation 3s.

If Pachter's estimates are correct, it would keep Microsoft's sales lead streak alive. In May, Microsoft's console led the hardware market in the U.S., tallying 270,000 unit sales, according to NPD, which reports on game industry sales each month. Microsoft said at the time that its win helped it achieve the sales lead in "11 of the past 12 months in the United States."

Even so, the game industry suffered through an exceedingly difficult retail environment in May. According to NPD , total U.S. game industry sales were $743.1 million in May, falling to their lowest point since October 2006.

Though Pacther didn't comment on industry-wide sales, he did chime in on the portable space. The analyst estimates that Sony sold just 85,000 PSP units in the U.S. last month, representing a 30 percent year-over-year decline. DS sales, Pachter says, were down 43 percent to 290,000 units. However, he estimates that the DS outpaced Nintendo's latest portable, the 3DS, which only had 165,000 unit sales last month.

All told, Pachter believes hardware sales last month were down 21 percent.

The Wedbush analyst offered up a similarly disconcerting estimate on last month's software sales. He wrote to investors that industry-wide software sales were down 6 percent to $500 million. Pachter says that Nintendo saw Wii software sales decline 22 percent year over year to settle at $110 million. Software sales on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, however, were up 6 percent and 3 percent to $130 million and $155 million, respectively.

Looking ahead, Pachter expects more trouble for the game industry.

"In our view, given the 3DS' weak debut and the likely limited impact from May's Wii and June's DS Lite price cuts, a rebound is unlikely to happen until Microsoft and Sony cut the price of their consoles," Pachter wrote in his note to investors. "Given the phenomenal sales growth that the Xbox 360 console has seen this year, we believe Microsoft will wait until the holidays or until sales decline before considering a price cut."

NPD is expected to release the official game industry sales figures for June on Thursday.

 

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