Thanks to the launch of Activision's Destiny, the game industry managed a modest September but is still seeing a slump in software sales, according to NPD Group's latest monthly report.
Video game industry sales in the US overall were roughly flat in September, despite the launch of a highly anticipated title from one of the industry's most respected developers.
The sci-fi title dubbed Destiny, from Halo creator Bungie and publisher Activision Blizzard, hit PlayStation and Xbox platforms on September 9 and captured the No. 1 sales spot last month, according to market researcher NPD Group. Overall sales of new video games, hardware and accessories in retail stores were up $24.8 million, or 2 percent, from the same time last year.
Despite the strength of Destiny, the launch of which marked the best-selling new franchise ever released, software sales were down 35 percent from the same time last year. September 2013 saw the release of Take-Two Interactive Software's Grand Theft Auto V crime drama game, which became the fastest selling title in history and set a fall sales benchmark that is hard to compete with.
Games sold and delivered over the Internet were far stronger in September, according to a different survey by SuperData Research. That firm said total spending on digital games was $873 million, up 8.6 percent compared with last year.
The data continues to paint the picture of an industry struggling to stabilize and grow as it approaches the one year anniversary of a new generation of console hardware. While these consoles, namely Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, have performed well, a lack of new games and a quickening falloff of sales on older titles has pulled overall sales downward for months. Executives expect this trend to swing back in favor of the industry in time for the holidays as game console makers and publishers promise a larger library of titles and consumers continue to make the shift from old hardware to new devices.
As has been the case all year, these consoles sales have helped stabilize the market.
"Hardware growth of 136 percent vs. September 2013 is the highest growth rate seen this year and, as seen in previous months, was driven by new console hardware sales of PS4 and Xbox One," wrote NPD analyst Liam Callahan. "Console hardware, specifically, was up over 200 percent versus September 2013."
In an exclusive deal with Activision, Destiny was bundled with Sony's PlayStation 4, offering players a strong incentive to make the jump from older-generation console hardware.
"Thanks to the support from fans and the overwhelming popularity of the limited-edition Destiny PS4 bundle, PlayStation 4 won the month of September, nearly tripling August sales," Sony said in a press release.