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Video game sales slip for eighth consecutive month

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NCAA Football 2012 (EA)

Another month, another batch of bad news for the game industry.

July continued the industry's ugly retail decline, with sales of video game software falling 23 percent compared to last year, according to The NPD Group.

If there was any consolation, it's that for the first time in a while, the decline was in-line with analyst expectations rather than screaming past them.

Hardware sales took an even bigger dive, falling 32 percent as the current generation of systems enters the last stage of its life cycle. Nintendo will launch its next-generation Wii U system later this year, while Sony and Microsoft are expected to do so in 2013.

In fact, only one hardware system saw any sort of increase.

"Of the hardware platforms that were on the market last July, only one, the 3DS, realized a unit sales increase over last year," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "Both the DS and the 3DS, however, realized a month-over-month unit sales increase over June 2012 while the other platforms declined."

As expected, EA's NCAA Football 13 led the sales charts. Otherwise, super heroes were the flavor of the month, as Lego Batman 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, and 2011 release Batman: Arkham City (likely boosted by the release of "The Dark Knight Rises")  all reached the top 10.

While July was another mess, August marks the beginning of the industry climb towards Christmas, highlighted by the launch of Madden. Because EA has switched that game's release date to the end of the month, though, analysts are predicting another loss for August.

However, August also sees the launch of the 3DS XL and New Super Mario Bros 2, which should temper declines. As for the rest of the year, NPD has issued its prediction on where things will end up.

"New physical retail sales of games hardware, software and accessories traditionally follows a very reliable seasonality pattern," says Frazier. "Based on year to date sales, and taking into account the release slate for the back five months of the year as well as the anticipated launch of the Wii U, annual sales for the new physical channel should come in around $14.5B for the year."

2011, for comparison's sake, came in between $16.3 to $16.6 billion — which would represent an 11 percent decline this year.

Here are the month's Top 10 selling games:

Rank Title Publisher
1 NCAA Football 13 Electronic Arts
2 Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Warner Bros. Interactive
3 The Amazing Spider-Man Activision Blizzard
4 Just Dance 3 Ubisoft
5 Batman Arkham City Warner Bros. Interactive
6 Call of Duty: Black Ops Activision Blizzard
7 Assassin's Creed: Revelations Ubisoft
8 NBA 2K12 Take 2 Interactive
9 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Activision Blizzard
10 Dead Island Deep Silver

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