Video game industry roars in December

While the industry's growth wasn't as strong as it was earlier in 2008, it still showed impressive results in December, and far outpaced the economy as a whole.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read

Video game industry sales grew 9 percent, year-over-year, in December, and were up 19 percent for the year, according to the latest figures from analyst firm, the NPD Group.

Overall, the industry saw sales of $5.29 billion in December, the first time it had ever cleared the $5 billion mark in a single month, according to NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

And once again, the video game industry far outpaced general retail sales, which were down 2.7 percent from November. By contrast, video games were up 81.8 percent over November's $2.91 billion.

Leading the way again was Nintendo, which sold 2.15 million Wii consoles and 3.04 million DS handhelds. Microsoft moved 1.44 million Xbox 360s, and Sony, once again, lagged behind, selling just 726,000 PlayStation 3s, 410,000 PS2s, and 1.02 million PSPs.

It was the first time, NPD said, that any video game machine--the Nintendo DS--had topped 3 million units in a single month, evidence perhaps of consumers wanting a good bargain at a time when resources are tight.

For the year, NPD said that the industry totaled $21.33 billion in sales, up 19 percent from the $17.97 billion it recorded in 2007.

All told, the numbers provided further evidence that video games may be one of the very few economic segments that are, more or less, recession-proof.

Of course, the industry's success isn't universal, and there have been a large number of layoffs at video game companies, just as has been seen across the economy as a whole.

"We get asked a lot why there are so many layoffs and studio closings occurring in the industry when it has just realized another record-breaking year," said Frazier in NPD's release of its December numbers. "This is not a case of the rising tide lifting all boats. The increases are not being enjoyed equally by all manufacturers and publishers."