Vidgame sales fall 18%

'Madden NFL '13' sales 11% up on last installment

Despite strong demand for Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL ’13,” and Take-Two Interactive’s “Borderlands 2,” new console and portable game sales fell 18% in September. Overall, the videogame biz was off 24% during the month, earning $848 million, continuing a downward trend, according to NPD Group.

In its first month of release, “Madden NFL ’13” sold 11% more units than last year’s installment, representing the best month for a “Madden” title.

And brand awareness established by “Borderlands,” released in Oct. 2009, boosted demand for its sequel by 234% during its first month on store shelves.

EA’s “Fifa Soccer ’13,” Nintendo’s “Super Mario Bros. 2” and NCsoft’s PC game “Guild Wars 2” rounded out the top five selling titles for September. EA had five of the top 10 selling titles in September.

But the games couldn’t match the success of last year’s “Gears of War 3,” from Epic Games and Microsoft and “Dead Island,” from Techland and Deep Silver, which topped charts in September 2011.

When factoring in PC games, software sales were off just 14% to $547 million. Year-to-date, strong launches of “Guild Wars 2,” and Activision Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria” and “Diablo 3,” earlier in the year, have boosted unit sales of PC Games by 12%.

Still, the holidays are fast approaching, which typically provides the games biz with a majority of its revenue.

“While year-over-year declines are present in video game software, we are seeing momentum leading up to the holidays when looking at August sales compared to September, which were up 67% on an average sales-per-week basis,” said NPD industry analyst, Liam Callahan.

The industry is particularly turning to Nintendo to do much of the heavy lifting next month with its launch of the Wii U on Nov. 18.

The new console shouldn’t just help sell more games, but also lift the aging hardware segment, which saw a 39% drop in sales in September, earning $211 million.

“Hardware sales are up on an average sales per week basis compared to August for the NDS, 3DS, PS3, Vita and 360, which points to momentum heading into the holiday season,” Callahan said.

While retail sales of new hardware, software and accessories account for roughly 50% of the total consumer spend on games, used games and rentals generated another $191 million in September, with digital downloads and revenue generated by mobile apps and social network games earning $488 million. All together, the games biz earned $1.6 billion.

Also notable for the month, eight of the top ten accessory items sold were either for Activision’s “Skylander” character packs or point and subscription card sales.

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