Game Consoles – August 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis

August 2009 might just be the turning point for 2009 in terms of video game sales. So far, apart from the first few months of 2009, it has been a very disappointing year, especially when compared to 2008. Sure, the economy has a lot to do with it, but some consoles have fallen harder than others, suggesting perhaps there were other factors in contention. But with Sony’s price cut, the new PS3 Slim and the PSP Go, the Xbox 360 price cut, and the holiday season upon us soon, now seems to be the right time for a recovery. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every month.

The figures for US sales in August 2009 are below, ranked in order of number of sales (August 2008 figures also shown, including percentage change):

  • DS: 552,900 (Total: 33.2 million; August 2008: 518,000 – up 7%)
  • Wii: 277,400 (Total: 21.1 million; August 2008: 453,000 – down 39%)
  • Xbox 360: 215,400 (Total: 15.9 million; August 2008: 195,000 – up 10%)
  • PS3: 210,000 (Total: 8.2 million; August 2008: 185,000 – up 14%)
  • PSP: 140,300 (Total: 15.5 million; August 2008: 253,000 – down 45%)
  • PS2: 105,900 (Total: 44.4 million; August 2008: 144,000 – down 26%)
  • NPD August 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

    NPD August 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

    NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of August 2009)

    NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of August 2009)

    My prediction from last month was:

    So prediction time. By this time next month, we should have a good idea whether the PS3 Slim is fact or fiction (if I had to put money on it, I would say ‘fact’), as well as what price cuts there might be. The PS3 Slim, according to rumours, won’t be here until September anyway, so it won’t be before October (when I post the September NPD analysis) before we can see what effects it may have on sales. In the short term though, this could spell a sales drought for the PS3, unless Sony does some pre-emptive price drop for the older SKUs to get rid of stock. August is traditionally also a slow month, so I expect sales to drop further, or at best, stay the same with July levels. The same ordering as this month, most likely. Madden NFL 10 should dominate, along with Wii Sports Resort, and there might be a late month surge in Batman: Arkham Asylum sales.

    Well, the PS3 Slim was in fact a ‘fact’, but I didn’t put any money on it, and I doubt I would have made much if I had given the odds at that time. The price cut was also a ‘fact’. While the PS3 Slim’s official release date was the 1st of September, many had already managed to secure one through regular retail channels, and so with the price cut on existing models as well, the August numbers do reflect the PS3 Slim/price cut effect, although obviously not the full effect which we will see this time next month for the September figures. The price cut on existing models took place around the middle of the month, and so the sales drought did not occur (although it did in certain places, like Japan). The Xbox 360 price drop came at the very end of the month, so it should not have affected the stats all that much. August is traditionally slow, but with so many announcements and changes happening, I was wrong about a general drop in sales, as August was better than July, if only slightly. And on the software front, I was pretty much on the mark, even predicting the order of the three titles that dominates this month’s charts. In any case, it was nice to see some ‘green’ in the sales figures above, for the comparison with 2008.

    So the big news of the month was the PS3 Slim and the associated price cut on all models. It happened around the middle of the month, and while we will only see the full effects of the PS3 Slim in the September figures (due out this time next month), we can already see the effect of the price cut that everyone, myself included, has been calling for. While the effect of the price cut wasn’t as dramatic as I, or many others, had imagined (most likely due to the PS3 Slim not being officially released until the next set of figures), there was an effect, albeit not enough to unseat the Xbox 360 as the third most popular console in the US. This should happen next month. And I would say even if the price cut had not occurred, a new model would have driven PS3 sales over sales of the Xbox 360, so with the price cut, the effect should be even more dramatic. But it’s worth noting that there is a surge of sales for any new model (like what the DSi experienced only a couple of months ago), as people upgrade to the new model along with people getting into it for the first time. The surge, unfortunately, is only temporary, and so it will be a couple of months before we see the long term effects of these changes. In any case, change was needed and Sony brought about it at just the right time. I may be in the minority when I say this, but I am not really sure that a new slim model was really needed, unless of course it is the new model that allowed  Sony to reduce costs and cut prices. Yes, in the short term a new model helps, but in the long term, keeping with the existing PS3, but with a price cut, would yield the same benefits. And then given time and technological improvements, bringing out a PS3 Slim that’s really much much smaller would have made more sense, since the current PS3 Slim doesn’t reduce the footprint of the console by much. With its non glossy surface, and greater depth, the PS3 Slim feels “cheaper” than the PS3 Fat. But that’s just my opinion, and perhaps because I rate the look of the original PS3 higher than many others. I like glossy stuff, you see. In any case, Sony finally breaks the duck of having poorer monthly in every month of 2009 compared to the same month in 2008 – rising a healthy 14% compared to August 2008. No such luck for the PSP and the PS2, but with the new PSP Go coming soon and the PS2 nearing end of line, you can pretty much ignore these figures.

    There wasn’t much time for Microsoft to respond following Sony’s price cut announcement, with the Xbox 360 price cut only happening when the month was practically over. But even then, it managed to outsell the PS3 for yet another month, but perhaps as I mentioned above, it will be the last time it does this for some time. The effect of the full price cut comes in next month, with Microsoft positioning the Xbox 360 Elite at the same price point as the PS3, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can keep the third spot they’ve held on to for all of 2009. But as I said before, I don’t think so, because the short term effects of a new model should not be underestimated. Even a new SKU, like the Xbox 360 Arcade, can produce rather dramatic effects on sales, despite the actual console looking much the same and with no incentive for existing users to upgrade. Both

    The Wii is this month’s loser again, dropping a massive 39% compared to the same time last month. In terms of history, it is sill doing quite well compared to consoles like the PS2, but it is quickly losing freshness, and perhaps a saturation point has been reached. Without hardcore gamers jumping on board, it may be difficult to maintain both hardware and software sales, evident in the Wii version of Madden NFL 10 not charting in the top 10, and even beaten handsomely by the PS2 version. And with Natal coming out on the Xbox 360, the “cool” factor will be shifting away from it starting next year when Natal is released, and even those who prefer a wii-mote like controller to the Natal’s controller-less interface, the PS3 motion controller will be taking customers away from the Wii. A price cut should help, but I don’t think price is the Wii’s major problem at this time. More fresh and innovative games and add-ons, like Wii Fit, should help, but just how many add-ons will the typical Wii user be willing to buy, especially when compared to Natal, the extra devices just feels a bit like Nintendo is only making up for the short comings of a system that still relies controller input. And with the PS3/Xbox 360 price cuts, the Wii could very well lose the number two position, and may even slip to fourth.

    So onto software. To toot my own horn again, as predicted by yours truly, Madden NFL 10 topped this month’s charts, followed by Wii Sports Resort and Batman: Arkham Asylum. To be completely honest though, this was easy to predict based on last year’s figures for Madden, and a casual glance at the Amazon sales charts. There was a lot of talk during the month about the PS3 version of Batman: AA outselling the Xbox 360 version on Amazon, but Amazon is only one retailer, and it is not indicative of the general market condition. Still, the PS3 version did manage to sell on level terms with the Xbox 360, a trend that’s been happening more often lately, suggesting that for completely new games, the PS3 version will sell nearly on equal terms with the Xbox 360 version. But for franchise games like Madden, where people already have older versions on one particular console, loyalty and convenience may lock people to the console they’ve purchased older versions on if both versions are similar in quality, and so we may still see the larger gap between Xbox 360 and PS3 versions from time to time. And what might turn out to be a trend from now on is the fairly close gap between market share enjoyed by the three competing consoles – this time, the Xbox 360 came out ahead with 34.5% of all sales in the top 10, with the Wii on 28.1% and the PS3 on 26.8% (its best figures for some time). Wii Sports Resort is keeping the Wii in it, but while it had 1 more title in the top 10 compared to both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, the other two enjoyed much less sales than either Madden or Batman. In fact, as mentioned before, the Wii version of Madden was outsold by the PS2 version, in a time when it’s rare to see any PS2 titles in the top 10.

    Here’s the complete list of the top 10 software sales:

    1. Madden NFL 10 (Xbox 360, EA) – 928,000
    2. Wii Sports Resort (Wii, Nintendo) – 754,000
    3. Madden NFL 10 (PS3, EA) – 665,000
    4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360, Eidos) – 303,000
    5. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, Eidos) – 290,000
    6. Madden NFL 10 (PS2, EA) – 160,000
    7. Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP, Square Enix) – 130,000
    8. Wii Fit w/Board (Wii, Nintendo) – 128,000
    9. Mario Kart w/ Wheel (Wii, Nintendo) – 120,000
    10. Fossil Fighters (DS, Nintendo) – 92,000

    Prediction time. I think I’ve made my prediction pretty clear throughout this article, with the PS3 hardware numbers receiving a noticeable boost. It could even be enough to unseat the Wii from the number two spot, although I think it unlikely (but not impossible) that it will outsell the DS. The Xbox 360 price cut should have some effect, and even it might outsell the Wii, however unlikely this scenario seemed just a few months ago. I haven’t really said much, have I? So for a concrete prediction, I would say the PS3 to outsell the Xbox 360 and the Wii, and the number three being contested between the Xbox 360 and the Wii (too close to call, at this point). The PSP Go is coming in October, so we won’t see the numbers until November. Halo 3: ODST should top the charts next month, followed by Wii Sports Resort. The Beatles game should sell well too, although the Wii SKU may outsell the PS3/Xbox 360 ones.  At least one SKU of Batman: AA should still chart, although whether it’s the Xbox 360 or the PS3 version is too close to call at the moment as well (Xbox 360 users will be fully occupied by Halo 3: ODST to think about buying other games, I feel).

    See you next month.


    2 Responses to “Game Consoles – August 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis”

    1. Weekly News Roundup (13 September 2009) « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

      […] DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Just what the world needs, another blog « Game Consoles – August 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis […]

    2. NPD US Video Games Sales Analysis - August 2010 | DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

      […] figures for US sales in August 2010 are below, ranked in order of number of sales (August 2009 figures also shown, including percentage […]

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