That’s starting to happen sooner than expected, as several tentpole titles helped turn around the software side of the sector in August.
In fact, retail-based sales of new games experienced their first positive month, up 21%, since November 2011, to $305 million. Eight of the top 10 titles were launched in August, a positive sign for publishers as a large number of high-profile games are set to roll out this fall.
Software sales are expected to increase more than 30% in September and higher in October, according to analyst Cowen & Co.
Collectively, August launches made up 58% of overall dollar sales for the month and 41% of units sales, NPD said. Compare that to 24% of dollar sales and 15% of unit sales in August 2012.
Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL 25,” Deep Silver’s “Saints Row IV,” Disney’s “Disney Infinity,” Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist” and Microsoft’s “Minecraft,” for the Xbox 360, were the top five-selling titles in August. NPD does not break out sales data for games. Sales of EA’s latest “Madden” is down versus last year.
New games, hardware and accessories account for roughly 50% of total consumer spending on games, NPD said. The rest comes from used game sales and rentals ($178 million), mobile, social and other digital game transactions ($528 million).
The results helped boost retail sales (including hardware and accessories) by 1% to $521 million. When including all digital platforms, that increased to $1.2 billion in August in the U.S.
Given the toys needed to play “Disney Infinity,” the game also helped lift sales in the accessories category by 7% to $136.7 million, which has long benefitted from Activision’s “Skylander’s” franchise. Combined with sales of “Skylanders” accessories, one in every three accessory sold this month was an interactive gaming toy, NPD said.
As expected, consumers are holding off on buying consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii U as they await the new devices to hit retail shelves in November.
Because of that, hardware sales fell 40% in August to $90.8 million.
Nintendo’s 3DS continued to outsell other hardware platforms for the fourth month straight. The Xbox 360 was the top selling console for the month for a 32nd month in a row.