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Total gaming spending hits $2.87 billion in third quarter

Digital spending on downloads, subscriptions, and social-network games beat out physical sales during the period.

The game industry suffered through a down period during the third quarter, new data from research firm NPD has revealed.

During the third quarter, total spending in the U.S. on video game products and services was $2.87 billion, down 1 percent compared with the $2.9 billion the industry generated during the same period last year. Physical sales, which includes game discs, hit $1.07 billion during the period, representing a 16 percent decline year over year. Consumer spending on used and rental titles hit $399 million.

Luckily for the industry, digital gaming helped prop companies up, with $1.4 billion spent on full game downloads, map packs, subscriptions, mobile games, and social-network titles. That figure was up 22 percent year over year.

The industry's decline has been due to an ongoing sluggishness in both the hardware and physical software market. During the third quarter, Nintendo's console sales continued to lag as consumers waited for Sunday's launch of the Wii U. Meanwhile, both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are watching demand for their devices flag as their installed bases hit critical mass.

In general, the industry delivers the strongest games during the fourth quarter, which would have caused some slower sales in the physical channel. In the last two weeks, two of the biggest games of the year, Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, have launched. Between them, the titles generated over $700 million in total revenue on their respective launch days.