Plugged In

Video game sales drop for 10th month in a row

Plugged In

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For the tenth month in a row, video game sales took a shellacking at retail. This time, though, the finger of blame can be pointed squarely at iconic action star, Marcus Fenix.

Last year's Gears of War 3 was such a hot seller that there was really no chance this year's crop of September games could top it. When all was said and done, brick and mortar retail sales of video game software were down 18 percent to $497.4 million, according to The NPD Group.

That was pretty much in line with fairly dire analyst expectation. Also as expected, hardware sales continued to tank, falling 39 percent compared to a year ago.

You won't hear too much complaining at Electronic Arts about the numbers, though. Madden NFL 13, which boasted record first day sales, topped the month, beating out both Borderlands 2 and FIFA Soccer 13. (To be fair, though, FIFA launched late in the month -- and EA says it recorded global sales of 4.5 million copies in five days, making it the largest sports video game launch of all time.)

Total industry sales for September came in at $848.3 million -- $262 million shy of last September, but $332.6 million above August 2012. Year to date, industry sales overall are down 25 percent from $9 billion to $6.74 billion.

Some analysts, though, including Sterne Agee's Arvind Bhatia, expect October to be the best month in almost a year. And the November launches of Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the Wii U could kick off the reversal of fortunes the industry has been waiting for.

"A new console cycle is likely to reverse the negative sales trends of the last several years," says Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "We expect continued modest packaged goods weakness for the next 12 months or so, with intermittent brief reversals, but think that even packaged goods will commence a sustainable rebound into mildly positive territory when all three next-generation consoles are in the marketplace. … More importantly, we believe that the publishers plan an unprecedented number of new games for launch in the first two years of the next generation, providing relief from the gamer fatigue we've seen over the last three years."

As for September, here were the top 10 games:

Rank Title Publisher
1 Madden NFL 13 Electronic Arts
2 Borderlands 2 Take 2 Interactive
3 FIFA Soccer 13 Electronic Arts
4 New Super Mario Bros. 2 Nintendo
5 Guild Wars 2 NCsoft
6 NHL 13 Electronic Arts
7 World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Activision Blizzard
8 NCAA Football 13 Electronic Arts
9 Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Warner Bros. Interactive
10 Battlefield 3 Electronic Arts

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