Plugged In

July game sales fall, but Nintendo’s 3DS continues to rise

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July sales leader NCAA Football 14 (Credit: EA)

As the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 inches closer, gamers are being even more careful with their money.

For the sixth month in a row, sales of video game software, the most closely-watched figure from The NPD Group, were down once again in July. The good news is that was slightly better than some analysts were predicting.

Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities had predicted a 23 percent decline, in part because of the extra sales tracking week in June this year. However, NPD reports software sales slipped just 19 percent to $210 million.

The industry overall also saw a 19 percent drop compared to last year, taking in $443 million. Hardware sales continued to plummet as well, down 34 percent as interest in the current generation wanes.

The one beneficiary? Nintendo’s 3DS, which managed outsell all other systems for the third consecutive month. The handheld is proving to be a bright performer for Nintendo, who has struggled to turn around the troubling sales of the Wii U.

“July 2013 was another positive month for 3DS software sales, with strong double-digit growth in both units and dollars," said NPD industry analyst Liam Callahan. "Besides launches like Shin Megami Tensei IV, growth was driven by continued success from games that have launched over the past few months like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.”

On the software side, EA led the pack, as expected, with NCAA Football 14. The NCAA franchise is never as strong as Madden, but its release is generally a signal to gamers that the fall/holiday season is near and helps stoke enthusiasm.

The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft was the surprise runner up this month, besting last month's winner The Last of Us and 3DS system-seller Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

August should bring some sales relief thanks to the likes of Madden 25, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Saints Row IV, but it's September that industry watchers are most interested in. That's when Grand Theft Auto V releases, a game expected to at least briefly bring the industry out of its continued sales slide. Sustained growth is expected to resume in 2014.

Here are the month's top selling titles:

Rank Title Publisher
1 NCAA Football 14 Electronic Arts
2 Minecraft Microsoft
3 The Last of Us Sony
4 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Activision Blizzard
5 Animal Crossing: New Leaf Nintendo
6 Far Cry 3 Ubisoft
7 Battlefield 3 Electronic Arts
8 Injustice: Gods Among Us Warner Bros. Interactive
9 NBA 2K13 Take 2 Interactive
10 Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Warner Bros. Interactive

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