Another lousy month for video game sales

August, traditionally, is when game sales start to rev up for the holiday season. This year, though, they sputtered and died. Panic

With the release date of Electronic Arts annual Madden football franchise moved to the end of the month, retail sales plummeted in August, falling 37 percent as compared to last year. Overall, year over year sales were down 23 percent.

Analysts has braced for the fall, but it still stung. Madden’s absence created a vacuum that was filled by Square Enix’s big budget Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which topped the sales charts.

Hardware sales fell 12 percent last month, despite Sony’s decision to cut PlayStation 3 prices by $50 mid-month. Sony noted in a statement that inventory problems hampered some sales of the console.

“Despite inventory constraints at retail during the first half of August, PS3 hardware sales were very strong the last two weeks of the month following the $50 price cut,” said Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications at Sony.

The good news for the industry is that the drought of top tier games is finally over. Resistance 3 is already on shelves and Gears of War 3 will arrive on Sept. 20 with plenty of other games on their heels. It almost certainly won’t be enough to save the year from once again falling short of last year’s retail sales numbers, but it will let publishers go out on something of a high note.

The month’s top selling games can be found after the break.