Sunday, January 16, 2011

Decrease in Overall Gaming Sales, But Records Still Broken

Despite all of the new games, accessories, and improved gaming systems that were released this past year, gaming sales in 2010 definitely went down. Yes, there were huge accomplishments like Microsoft selling 8 million Kinect accessory packages in the first 60 days after its release, and the fact that the company sold more Xbox 360s this year than ever before, but sales numbers were still lower than last year.

On Thursday, January 13 the NPD Group published their December and annual reports concerning video games in 2010. The reports said that the total sales for video games in 2010 reached $18.58 billion. They went on to explain that this sales figure was less than the past two years. Sales in 2009 were $19.66 billion while video games brought in $21.4 billion in 2008.

NPD did offer an explanation for the drop in sales. They said that they could be attributed to the 13 percent dip in spending on console hardware and a 6 percent drop in new video game software sales. The firm went on to say that consumer spending for new and used games, as well as downloadable games, have dropped by one percent. Now on the other hand, the sales of video game accessories have gone up. In 2010 the sale of all video game accessories jumped a whole 13 percent above the sales numbers from 2009. For the month of December alone, sales reached $853.2 million.

One of the biggest contributors that even allowed the gaming sales numbers to be what they are for 2010 was Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Sales of consoles went up 42 percent in 2010 over what they were the year before. December was a record setting month for the five-year-old console. Sales numbers showed that Microsoft sold 1.9 million units, making it the best-selling month ever for the gaming platform.

Microsoft said that to accommodate the unexpected demands in December they had to make units available that had been set aside for January and February production runs. "Despite this, Microsoft still experienced out of supply situations in late December,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that confirmed the news of the shortage. “It [Microsoft] expects supply constraint to continue in January and February as it works with retail and manufacturing partners to expedite production and shipments to replenish the channel."

Although Microsoft definitely had incredible sales numbers in December, the company with the top overall hardware sales for 2010 was Nintendo. The company sold more than 8.5 million DS systems for the year, as well as 7 million Wii consoles. For the month of December, the company sold 2.5 million DS units and 2.3 million Wii units.

Now everyone needs to remember that overall gaming sales also include PC gaming. In 2010 PC gaming has had a small increase since 2009. Its sales numbers grew an overall 3 percent over last year’s numbers in terms of selling software. NPD reported that consumers in 2010 seemed to spend more of their money on used games, game downloads, and digital copies of games. There were some new games in 2010 though that did definitely make a fine contribution to the PC gaming sales numbers. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft : Cataclysm expansion pack and the highly-anticipated Starcraft sequel, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, combined to account for 14 percent of the total PC gaming sales for the year.

On the console side there were some new games that definitely upped the gaming sales this year. The best of these include: Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, EA’s Madden NFL 11, Microsoft’s Halo: Reach, and Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Of these games Black Ops definitely nabbed the top spot. In the first two months, more than 12 million copies of the game were sold.

Although gaming sales have declined the past two years, plenty of records are still being broken, and we can all definitely agree that gaming itself isn’t declining. There were some great accomplishments, broken records, and new games that we saw in 2010. Who knows what will happen in 2011, but I’m sure that there will be even bigger and better things to come.

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