You know times are tough when the bright spot in August for the videogame industry was that price cuts drove increased sales of both Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation 3.
But never fear, better times await. The next four months will generate more than half of the industry’s sales that are made at retail, which could be more than enough to bring thngs back in line with last year’s performance.
The NPD Group today released its assessment of retail sales in August, which does not take into consideration electronic or other digital channels where games are sold.
NPD analyst Anita Frazier said almost everything related to games –software, hardware and accessories — declined in August compared to the same month a year earlier. The one exception was portable game sales, which were driven by sales of Nintendo DS and 3DS software.
Price cuts benefited both Nintendo and Sony.
Sony trimmed the price of the five-year-old PlayStation 3 to $250 from a previously recommended price of $300, while Nintendo slashed the price of the struggling 3DS by $80 after the glasses-free 3-D handheld device had been on sale for only four months.
Nintendo said about 185,000 units were sold after the price reduction on Aug. 12, an increase of more than 260 percent during the comparable 19-day time period in July. During the entire month, the company sold 235,000 3DS game devices to outsell the original Nintendo DS, which still managed to sell 165,000 in August.
The PS3 price cut also allowed it to drive a notable uptick in sales year-over-year.
Xbox continues to maintain its lead over other consoles in the market, selling 308,000 units in August, which means it has outsold any other console-maker for 14 of the past 15 months in the U.S.
In August, total U.S. game sales from retail, including all hardware and software, were $669.9 million, falling 23 percent from $873.8 million a year ago. Software sales in the period were hit the hardest, recording a 34 percent drop to $264.8 million from $403.5 million a year earlier.
Frazier attributed the bulk of the decline to the shift of Electronic Arts’ release of the latest Madden football title from August to September. It launched on Aug. 30, which falls within NPD’s September 2011 reporting period.
Otherwise, the best-selling game in August was Square Enix’s Deus Ex, followed by EA’s NCAA Football 12 and Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Frazier added that the rest of the year could more than make up for the softness seen in 2011.
“Even though year-to-date performance of the new physical portion of the industry is down 5 percent, more than half of industry sales in this channel are still to be realized in the back four months of the year,” she wrote. “Given the strong release schedule in the coming months, new physical retail sales could still be flat to slightly up once full-year sales are tallied.”