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Late ‘Madden’ release hurts vidgame sales

Biz down 23% in August vs. 2010

The vidgames biz fumbled in August as the release of Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL” football franchise came later than usual, causing overall sales for the month to drop 23% vs. August 2010.

Total software, hardware and accessory sales came in at $669.9 million, according to NPD Group.

Square Enix’s “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” was the top selling game for August, moving around 360,000 units. It was followed by EA’s “NCAA Football 12,” Activision’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” Disney Interactive Studios’ “Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension” and “Cars 2.” The latter two titles in the top five, along with the continued popularity of “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game” should provide a boost to Disney’s bottomline.

“Madden NFL” typically bows during the second week of August, but was released Aug. 30 this year.

But the game is already off to a strong start, with first-week sales up 10% over last year to 1.4 million units. But that’s still down from a high of 1.7 million units sold in 2005 during its first week in release.

The games industry has suffered from a downturn in sales during much of the year, according to NPD.

Analysts expect September sales to start a series of positive months for the biz as higher profile titles, like “Resistance 3” and “Gears of War 3,” are released by the major publishers leading into the lucrative holiday shopping season. As a result, full-year sales are expected to only be down in the single digits.While hardware sales of consoles were off 12% to $249 million, NPD did not disclose which console maker led in sales during the month, as it has done in the past.

“Even though year-to-date performance of the new physical portion of the industry is down 5%, more than half of industry sales in this channel are still to be realized in the back four months of the year,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “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.”

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