U.S. Video-Game Sales Drop 24% in September, NPD Says

Industry Now Gearing Up for Holiday Sales

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U.S. retail sales of software, hardware and accessories declined 24% to $848.3 million in September from a year earlier, according to researcher NPD Group.

The decline was led by shrinking sales of game consoles, which fell 39% to $210.9 million, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based company said today in an emailed statement. Software sales fell 18% to $497.4 million even with strong gains in Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 13" football game, which sold 11% more units in its debut month than the previous version last year, NPD said.

Video-game industry sales this year have shrunk as fewer consumers buy packaged titles, which sell for about $60 each. Sharp gains in games played on mobile devices have failed to offset an overall decline. Taking into account digital downloads, consumers probably spent almost $1.6 billion on games last month, NPD analyst Liam Callahan estimated.

New video-game sales for this month will probably decline 5% from a year ago, which would be the best result for the industry in nearly 12 months, Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach, said in a research note today.

The industry is gearing up for the peak holiday-shopping season beginning in November. Among nearly a dozen tent-pole game titles from major developers, Microsoft releases the next installment of its $3 billion "Halo" franchise, while Activision Blizzard will begin selling "Call of Duty: Black Ops II."

Microsoft held the lead in console sales in September for the 21st consecutive month. The Redmond, Wash.-based company said in a separate statement that U.S. retailers sold 270,000 of its Xbox consoles last month. That's down 38% from 438,000 players sold a year earlier.

Nintendo, based in Kyoto, Japan, said in its own emailed statement that sales of software for its 3DS handheld machines jumped 89% from a year earlier, without citing specific sales figures.

The gain was helped by titles such as "New Super Mario Bros. 2," which sold more than 295,000 units in September, its second month on the market, Nintendo said, citing NPD figures. The statement didn't disclose hardware sales for the 3DS and the older Wii console.

The video-game machine maker, trying to recover from an annual loss, will begin selling its Wii U home console Nov. 18. It's the industry's first new console since 2006.

Sony often doesn't report monthly figures, and didn't for September.

~Bloomberg News~

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