Business down 12% due to recession

The videogame biz is starting to lose ground in the recession.

The game industry experienced its fourth monthly slump in sales in a row in June, hauling in 31% less over the same period last year. So far this year, the biz is down 12%, according to market research company NPD.

“The first half of the year has been tough largely due to comparisons against a stellar first-half performance last year, but still, this level of decline is certainly going to cause some pain and reflection in the industry,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

Last month saw the greatest year-over-year monthly decline since September 2000, when the vidgame biz fell 41%.

When adding up hardware and software sales, the vidgame industry generated $1.17 billion in June. For the year to date, the biz is at $7.3 billion.

The top-selling game in June was actioner “Prototype,” from Activision Blizzard, moving 600,000 units across the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms.

The sales figure is modest for any game capturing the top spot in a month.

Nintendo’s “Wii Play” fell off the top 10 list for the first time in 29 months, but Nintendo’s Wii continues to be the top-selling vidgame console, selling 361,000 units vs. 165,000 for Sony’s PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 was the only platform to see sales increase over last June. Nintendo’s DS has also boosted sales for the full year.

In its first month of release, the Wii Motion Plus sold 169,000 units, not counting the ones included with Electronic Arts’ “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.”

This year’s numbers may improve once the holiday shopping season kicks in.

“Even with the industry down 12% year to date, with a strong back-half performance, full year sales could still be flat to slightly up on 2008’s record-breaking performance,” Frazier said.

But that could change if publishers push high-profile titles into 2010, she warned.

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