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Video game industry rallies 21% in August

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Madden NFL 25 (Credit: EA Sports)

Madden NFL 25 might not be performing quite as well as last year's game, but it's still strong enough to lead the video game industry to a major comeback.

Video game software retail sales in August were up 21 percent compared to a year ago, according to The NPD Group -- the first time the industry has shown a year-over-year increase since October of 2011 (excluding January 2013, which had an extra week of reporting). Brick and mortar sales of video games came in at $305 million, an improvement of better than $55 million. The boost was even bigger than Wall Street analysts were expecting.

The numbers still do not include digital sales via services like Xbox Live or Steam.

The reason for the comeback? Great August games.

"Collectively, August 2013 launches made up an astounding 58 percent of overall dollar sales for the month and 41 percent of units sales, which compared to 24 percent of dollar sales and 15 percent of unit sales that August 2012 launches represented in that month," said NPD's Liam Callahan.

Hardware sales, not surprisingly, continued to sink as consumers save up for the next generation of consoles to hit shelves in November. Sales of game systems were down 40 percent to $90.8 million compared to a year ago, a $60 million drop.

On the whole, though, accessory and game sales managed to give the industry a 1 percent bump over the August 2012 figures.

Even better, that growth is expected to continue in September thanks to the release of Grand Theft Auto V on the 17th. The launch of EA's FIFA 14 on the 24th will likely further boost the numbers.

While Madden NFL 25 was atop the software sales charts, as expected, there was a rather notable surprise in second place. Most industry observers had expected Disney Infinity, the Mouse House’s much hyped answer to Activision’s Skylanders series, to grab the spot, that honor went to the decidedly non kid-friendly Saints Row IV.

That's a big win, given the game's turbulent past. Once a planned THQ release, it was sold to Deep Silver when its original publisher filed for bankruptcy.

Pikmin 3 doesn't appear to be quite the system-seller Nintendo was hoping it would be, however. The game finished 10th in sales in August -- impressive considering the relatively low number of Wii Us compared to other systems -- but the top console was once again the Xbox 360. Nintendo can still take solace in the 3DS, though, as it was the top overall system of the month.

The launch of Madden traditionally signals the unofficial start of the holiday flood, but the launch of GTA V could complicate things. Publishers are largely avoiding the blast zone the game will create and holding releases until a bit later this year. No other major action or adventure console games are scheduled to hit shelves until mid-October.

Here's a look at the month's top selling games:

Rank Title Publisher
1 Madden NFL 25 Electronic Arts
2 Saints Row IV Deep Silver
3 Disney Infinity Disney Interactive Studios
4 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Ubisoft
5 Minecraft Microsoft (Corp)
6 Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Nintendo
7 NCAA Football 14 Electronic Arts
8 Payday 2 505 Games
9 Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Square Enix Inc (Corp)
10 Pikmin 3 Nintendo

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