Videogame Category Sees Sales Blowin' In The Wind

September 14, 2009: Through August, retail sales of videogames had declined for six straight months, but a flurry of recent releases has the category believing that, if not smooth sailing, calmer waters are head. Madden NFL 10 was released  Aug. 14, then Guitar Hero 5 came on Sept. 1 and The Beatles: Rock Band dropped on Sept. 9.

Although sales of Madden 10 were down almost 19% versus Madden NFL '09 in 2008, Madden NFL 10 was the top-selling video game of August. EA Sports sold nearly 1.9 million copies of Madden, 10, which included figures for the Xbox 360 version (the month's best-seller with 928,000) and Madden for the PS3 (665,000), according to market research company The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.

The Guitar Hero franchise had take in more than $2 billion in sales worldwide prior to the release of GH5. Sales from the week ending Sept. 5 put Guitar Hero 5 among the top five in various hardware categories. The list, from category sources, was: For Wii: Wii Sports Resport, Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii, GH5. For Xbox 360: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, GH5. For PlayStation: Batman'Arkam Asylum, Madden NFL 10, GH5.

Data from the week ending Sept. 10 saw The Beatles: Rock Band topping sales across multiple platforms, including Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, where The Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition was No. 4. Sales for GH5 have already softened, as it was not among the Wii top 5, was  No. 4 on Xbox 360 and No. 5 on PlayStation 3.

Meanwhile, the ten best selling games on for the week ending Sept. 12 included Wii Sports Resort at No. 1, GH5 for Xbox 360 at No. 6, The Beatles for Xbox 360 No. 7, The Beatles for PS 3 No. 9; and GH 5 for PS 3 No. 10.

NPD Group reported a 16% decline to $909 million in overall U.S. retail sales of hardware, software and accessories through August. Sales of games fell 15% $470 million versus August 2008, and hardware sales fell 25% to $298 million.

But the industry annually looks toward Q4 and the holiday season as its strongest quarter, and figures would seem to predict that happening again in 2009. According to a new report from NPD Group, kids 12 years of age and younger account for 24% of videogame industry unit sales, while households with kids in this age group present comprise 45% of total industry dollar sales, In its study, "Kids & Cross-Entertainment Behaviors," NPD Group said that "with an average of 68 leisure hours each week, and the largest share of the kids leisure time pie going to entertainment, kids have a major influence on the games industry."

The study also shows that 57% of children 2-12 play videogames, and 62% of them use a computer. The outlook: "While it is a big market for games, this consumer segment is far from penetrated, representing an area for future industry expansion."

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 53.4 million of them ages 12 and under in the U.S., accounting for 17% of the population," Anita Frazier, industry analyst for NPD Group, said in a statement. "Yet for many industries, games included, they account for a much larger portion of total sales. For the 12 months ending June 2009, this group of consumers comprised 24% of games industry unit sales. Tweens in particular are a highly involved group of consumers as 75% of this age group play video games and 81% are on the computer for non-homework related activities.”

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