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Plugged In

August video game sales hit a new low

Plugged In

Everyone was expecting bad news from video game retailers in August.

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Square Enix)

And everyone was right.

The NPD Group reports that year over year sales were down 23 percent, with software sales tumbling 37 percent. August, historically, has been a rebound month for the industry, but EA's decision to move the release of the annual Madden entry to the end of the month torpedoed any chance of that happening this year.

Analysts and investors were fairly well braced for the numbers. Predictions had called for a 30-35 percent decline in retail game sales. Other parts of the industry suffered as well, as hardware sales were down 12 percent.

The absence of Madden was good news for Square Enix, though. Critical hit Deus Ex: Human Revolution topped the sales charts, edging out EA's NCAA Football 12. What was remarkable was the continued strong performance of last November's Call of Duty: Black Ops, which came in at number three on the charts despite being nearly a year old. (See the full top 10 below.)

No publishers were willing to divulge exact hardware sales numbers (NPD stopped providing those earlier this year), but Sony indicated that its mid-month price cut helped spur interest in 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.

Here's a look at the full Top 10 for August 2011:

Rank Title Publisher
1 Deus Ex: Human Revolution Square Enix
2 NCAA Football 12 Electronic Arts
3 Call of Duty: Black Ops Activision Blizzard
4 Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension Disney Interactive
5 Cars 2 Disney Interactive
6 Just Dance Summer Party Ubisoft
7 Just Dance 2 Ubisoft
8 Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game Disney Interactive
9 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D Nintendo
10 Zumba Fitness: Join the Party Majesco
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