Gaming's abysmal September: Sales down 24 percent

The month hits the video-game industry hard, with overall sales slumping and sales of hardware alone dropping even further.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
The Xbox 360 still reigns supreme... for now.
The Xbox 360 still reigns supreme... for now. Microsoft

The video game industry had a rough time in stores last month.

During September, total U.S. video-game industry sales, including physical game discs, consoles, and accessories, hit $848.3 million, down 24 percent compared with the $1.1 billion the industry generated during the same period last year, research firm NPD Group announced yesterday.

The hardware sector of the industry suffered through a similarly troubling period as sales slumped 39 percent year-over-year to end the month at $210.9 million. Software sales were down 18 percent from $609.7 million last year to $497.4 million this year. Accessories saw sales fall by 11 percent to end the period at $139.9 million.

Despite a seemingly tough September for everyone, Microsoft was quick to tout its leadership, saying September was the 21st month in a row that the Xbox 360 led all console competitors with 270,000 in unit sales. Microsoft owned 49 percent of the console market during the period, marking the 19th consecutive month it landed more than 40 percent share of console sales.

But it's possible Microsoft's streak will come to an end before long. Next month, Nintendo will start selling the Wii U, the follow-up to its current Wii. The Wii U, which comes with HD support and a GamePad boasting a 6.2-inch LCD display, will start at $300 for a basic set featuring the console and GamePad. A $350 Deluxe Set will offer those components, plus additional storage, a charging station, and a copy of Nintendo Land. Historically, new consoles deliver monstrous sales on launch. They also boost an ailing hardware market.

"In mid-September, Nintendo revealed launch details regarding the Wii U," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said yesterday in a statement. "The new console will launch on November 18 and has the potential to reinvigorate retail sales of hardware."

Nintendo didn't divulge September unit sales yesterday but said in a statement that hardware sales were up during the period. The company also said its 3DS software sales were up 89 percent over last year.

Speaking of software, NPD revealed that Madden NFL 13 was the top-selling game in September, and registered an 11 percent increase in unit sales compared with last year. Borderlands 2, FIFA Soccer 13, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Guild Wars 2 rounded out the top five.

However, NPD's sales figures encompassed only 50 percent of total consumer spending last month on games, the research firm said. NPD's data does not factor in digital sales -- a growing market segment -- or used and rental sales. If all of those sales are factored in, total consumer spending on games last month hit just less than $1.6 billion.