Video games continue an 11-month slide ahead of holidays


Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks about the Xbox 360 system during his keynote address at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)
November 9, 2012

The video game industry continued to decline for the 11th straight month, down 25 percent from the same month last year for sales of $432.6 million.

As the Associated Press reported, the NPD Group reported that hardware saw a 37 percent drop while sales of accessories saw a modest 5 percent gain.

Microsoft announced that it continued to be the leading hardware seller for the 22nd consecutive month, selling 270,000 units in October and maintaining a 56 percent market share hold on the U.S. gaming market. Sony and Nintendo did not release their monthly sales figures.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the industry, however. The holiday season is a bright spot, and analysts will be watching the sales of new releases closely for clues about the industry. The Wii U is set to come out on Nov. 18, and the new Nintendo console has the potential to turn around declining hardware sales.

The new console has a tablet-like controller that gives players the option to use the controller as a second screen while watching video or to use what’s called “asymmetrical” play, where the player with a tablet is controlling some aspect of the game that’s different from others.

Times have been tough for the more traditional video game industry as players turn increasingly to mobile devices to get their fix of gameplay. While that may mean more types of people consider themselves gamers than before, that hasn’t translated to higher sales of Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo consoles. In fact, nearly a quarter of app gamers surveyed by NPD said that they only play games on mobile devices.

One way that console companies could try and boost sales, the firm suggested, would be to promote titles across platforms, getting apps to tie-in to console games and vice versa.

As NPD analyst Liam Callahan noted, around 30 percent of app gamers have paid for some aspect of a mobile game — either to purchase something within the app or for the app itself. Tying products more closely together may help the video game industry as a whole push those gamers to platforms where they spend more per user, such as portables, consoles and personal computers.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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