Game Consoles – September 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis

As 2009 winds down, the video gaming industry is actually just getting started. From now onwards, you will see huge increases in video game sales from month to month, but with the economic situation as it is, comparison with previous years may still point to a disappointing holiday season. But there are other factors at play here, most noticeably Sony’s new PS3 Slim, and the corresponding price cuts for all the home based consoles. So September 2009 is an extremely interesting month where the stats will tell us a lot about whether 2009 can be salvaged, or whether it will remain a disappointing year on the video gaming front. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every month.

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

  • DS: 525,200 (Total: 33.8 million; September 2008: 537,000 – down 2%)
  • PS3: 491,800 (Total: 8.7 million; September 2008: 232,000 – up 112%)
  • Wii: 462,800 (Total: 21.6 million; September 2008: 687,000 – down 33%)
  • Xbox 360: 352,600 (Total: 16.3 million; September 2008: 347,000 – up 2%)
  • PSP: 190,400 (Total: 15.7 million; September 2008: 238,000 – down 20%)
  • PS2: 146,000 (Total: 44.6 million; September 2008: 173,000 – down 16%)
  • NPD September 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

    NPD September 2009 Game Console US Sales Figures

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

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

    My prediction from last month was:

    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).

    Mostly right, a couple of minor mistakes. As predicted and expected, the PS3 managed to beat the Wii to second place, but it wasn’t enough to unseat the DS as the number one selling game console. I predicted that the Wii and Xbox 360 would be neck and neck, which wasn’t the case, but when I made the prediction, Nintendo had not yet announced the Wii price cut which helped it to at least hold on to third place. The software predictions are mostly correct, even down to the uncertainty as to which platform for Batman: AA was going to win (it was the PS3, beating the Xbox 360 version that finished just outside of the top 10). The Wii version of The Beatles: Rock Band did not outsell the Xbox 360 version though.

    So the big news of course are the PS3 numbers, which are simply put, head and shoulders, and a couple of body length, above last month pre-price cut/Slim numbers. There is a seasonal bump from August to September – one can work out just how much by looking at the PSP/PS2 numbers, which weren’t affected by new models or price cuts – this seasonal bump turns out to be around 35%.  Now taking this into account, the PS3 numbers are still about a 100% improvement compared to last month, and this is the amount that the Slim and price cut contributed. Now, how much of it was Slim based, and how much of it was price cut based, is impossible to tell with the numbers I have. The PS3 numbers are also a 112% improvement upon last year’s numbers, which is quite amazing. However, the jump in sales may only be a temporary spike, and it will be useful  to see next month’s numbers before coming to any conclusions. There won’t be a sales drop next month compared to this one, as the holiday season heats up and increases sale naturally, but the question would be how close Wii and Xbox 360 sales are to the PS3, whether the PS3 can hold on to second place or even get first. What is clear though is that the combination of a price cut and a new PS3 model has revived the flagging fortunes of the PS3, although whether this kicks of a period where the PS3 starts to dominate, or whether the Wii and Xbox’s market saturation will prevent this dominance, is a question that can only be answered in a few month’s time.

    The biggest loser, and why total hardware sales are still down compared to the same time last year (despite the positive PS3 numbers), is the Wii. Another month in which the Wii managed to sell less than the same time last year, this time by 33%, is just not good enough for Nintendo. The price cut came a bit late to make a huge difference, so Nintendo will hope that its full effects will be felt next month. But what has driven Wii sales, the novelty factor, is starting to wear off. And it will only get worse as Sony and Microsoft debut their own motion systems, especially Microsoft’s Natal which seems a lot more “next-gen” than either the Wii or the PS3 motion controller.

    Microsoft, now the least popular of the home consoles, may seem like the biggest loser, but if you look closely at this month’s numbers, they still have something to be happy with. While I don’t think the Xbox 360 Elite is priced competitively enough to combat the PS3, and I don’t think the Arcade can battle with the Wii, it’s clear that by having these two price points, Microsoft want to take on both Sony and Nintendo. It’s not working too well. What would have made more sense was to drop the Pro bundle to Arcade prices, get rid of the HDD-less Arcade model, and price the Elite at much less than the PS3 Slim. But you do get the feeling that any price cut is only a temporary measure until Microsoft unveil Natal, which should push it ahead of the PS3 and the Wii in terms of the novelty factor at least. But as I mentioned above, the other numbers, which is basically the software numbers, are quite encouraging actually, obviously helped by the platform exclusive Halo 3: ODST. In fact, 32% of the total video gaming revenue belonged to Microsoft products (hardware, software and accessories) this month, the single most contribution of any console. For the top 10 software, Microsoft dominated with 64.7% of the revenue, the most dominant performance since I started collecting data, even beating the month when Wii Fit was released in which Nintendo dominated with 61% of the top 10. So it’s not all bad news, and the lead they’ve built up over the PS3 over the last few years should allow them to keep their lead for at least another couple of years, and that’s assuming the PS3 performs as well as this month from now on.

    So let’s move onto the software stats. My prediction of Halo 3: ODST and Wii Sports Resort occupying the number 1 and 2 spots respectively was a pretty easy one to make, and it was correct. Halo 3: ODST’s numbers were amazing, making it the 6th best selling SKU launch of all time, very good for a title that was only available on one platform, and an add-on to boot. There was room for 4 more Xbox 360 titles in the top 10. The only slight point of concern was that the PS3 version of Batman: AA outsold the Xbox 360 version, something that rarely happens for multi-platform releases, but the PS3 version did have exclusive content, and as I said last month, the Xbox 360 gamers might have been too busy with ODST to think about Batman: AA. There were only two Wii games in the top 10, gone are the days when Wii Play, Wii Fit and Mario Kart would all make regular appearances. These games have had a good run, but if Wii software sales are to improve, then the platform needs a string of must-have third-party games. Forget about a string, there hasn’t been even a couple of third-party Wii games that can be called “must-have”, so that’s a worrying point for Nintendo. For the PS3, the hardware bump did not translate over to software, with only two titles in the top 10. Madden NFL 10 on the PS3 did well to bridge the gap between it and the Xbox 360 version, but even the Wii version of the Beatles Rock Band game outsold the PS3 version, and so it did not place in the top 10. And as mentioned before, Batman: AA was the other PS3 entry in the top 10, beating the Xbox 360 version which finished 11th (sales figures unknown, but probably just over 200,000, and maybe about 10,000 copies short of the PS3 version). Microsoft’s dominance meant a 64.7% share of the top 10, with the Wii  getting 16.8% (plus 6.7% for the single DS game in the list), and the PS3 on 11.8%.

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

    1. Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360, Microsoft) – 1,520,000
    2. Wii Sports Resort (Wii, Nintendo) – 442,900
    3. Madden NFL 10 (Xbox 360, EA) – 289,600
    4. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS, Nintendo) – 258,100
    5. The Beatles: Rock Band (Xbox 360, EA) – 254,000
    6. Madden NFL 10 (PS3, EA) – 246,500
    7. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (Xbox 360, Activision) – 236,000
    8. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, Eidos) – 212,500
    9. Guitar Hero 5 (Xbox 360, Activision) – 210,800
    10. The Beatles: Rock Band (Wi, EA) – 208,600

    It’s time to make a prediction of October 2009’s results. For my money, I’ll say that the order of the hardware sales will remain the same, although the Wii numbers will be closer to the PS3 numbers. The PSP Go debuts, but based on an Australian report about the poor sales figures (a couple of hundred sales per week in an entire country, is not the best), the impact of the PSP Go may be muted. Sony will continue to have good month, but this time backed up in software sales as well with Uncharted 2. It might not sell enough to top the number one title, which might be Wii Sports Resort. Wii Fit Plus might take a place in the top half of the charts as well. I expect FIFA 10 to show up in one of more flavors in the top 10. Borderlands might make a showing too.

    See you next month.


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

    1. Weekly News Roundup (25 October 2009) « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

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

    2. Game Consoles – September 2010 NPD Sales Figure Analysis | DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

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

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