Digital Manifest Destiny: August sales mark the continuing decline of video game retail

digital manifest destiny august sales mark the continuing decline of video game retail gamestop closed

The sky is falling! The sea is boiling! Generations of darkness, studio closures, Final Fantasy turned into a social game, Grand Theft Auto re-imagined as a co-operative corridor shooter where the game is free but every bullet must be purchased with real money! We should have seen the signs when Nintendo released Nintendogs + Cats for 3DS last year because IT LITERALLY MEANS DOGS AND CATS ARE LIVING TOGETHER! There’s no hope left, the video game industry is over.

Don’t jump to conclusions everyone. The intrepid analysts at the NPD Group released their monthly report on the US video game market on Thursday and the outlook for the industry-in-flux isn’t pretty. August video game, console, and accessory sales were down a whopping 20 percent year-on-year, plummeting to just under $517 million from over $647 million during the same period in 2011.

Even though sequels in best-selling franchises hit the top ten, they fell behind previous entries. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for example moved 180,000 copies across August, well behind the 225,000 copies 2010 PSP game Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep sold in its first month. The same for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, which sold 105,000 copies in August, well behind its June 2010 precursor War for Cybertron which sold nearly 170,000. 

Consoles are plummeting as well. The Xbox 360’s resurgence over the past two years thanks to its slick redesign and the Kinect has worn off as Microsoft sold just 193,000 consoles, a drop of more than -37 percent from last year. In the Madden NFL month, that’s a troubling figure. NPD’s Anita Frazier reported that total console sales were down -39 percent year-on-year. “The current hardware systems are showing their age, so it goes without saying that it would be great to have new systems breathe life into traditional retail industry sales.”

August’s woes are nothing new, though; the retail video game industry has been contracting for four years straight. Look at the full year totals: In 2008, the US retail game business generated $22 billion in sales. Then $20 billion in 2009, $18.6 billion in 2010, and $17 billion in 2011.

Again: The sky is falling, etc.

The sky isn’t really falling though. It’s important to remember how misleading the NPD Group’s data is if looked at as representative of the full industry. Consider this: Up until June of this year, the NPD Group’s retail analysis didn’t incorporate sales from Walmart at all, meaning that its tallies were lacking data from one of the biggest game retailers in the country. Additionally, as Frazier was quick to point out in this month’s report, NPD sales tracking is retail only. It doesn’t account for any digital sales, not from closed networks controlled by platform holders like PSN and XBLA, not PC services like Steam, or mobile services like Apple’s iTunes. Frazier’s report claims that the digital and mobile market generated $391 million on its own. “You can’t talk about the gaming market without taking into consideration the growth in the number of mobile gamers on smartphones and tablets,” she told Market Watch.

There’s the truth: The sky isn’t falling on the video game industry, it’s falling on video game retail. Game retail may have totaled $17 billion last year, but people actually spent $25 billion on games in 2011 according to the ESA. The money isn’t gone. It’s just moved.


The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.

These cheat codes made gaming history

For almost as long as video games have existed, there have been video game cheat codes. Here are some of the most famous cheat codes, including the legendary Konami Code found in dozens of games.

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.

You’re better off setting 15 bucks ablaze than playing ‘The Quiet Man’

The Quiet Man is such a bafflingly bad video game that it's surprising it saw release. With combat as bad as terrible PS2 action games and a nonsensical story, this three-hour interactive movie is an all-around flop of epic proportions.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.

PlayStation Classic powered by open-source emulator made by fans

The PlayStation Classic will be powered by the open-source, fan-made PCSX ReARMed emulator. The move is an unexpected one for Sony, particularly because it has not entirely been friendly with the emulation community.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.

The next ‘Overwatch’ patch will bring major changes, require a full reinstall

The next major Overwatch patch will be a remaster patch, and will include load time improvements and memory optimization, among other things. With so many things to be added to the game, a full reinstall will be required.

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Got an NES Classic? Here’s how to hack it to play more than 700 games

The NES Classic is terrific for what it is, but Nintendo's discontinued device remains limited in what it can play. Here's how to hack your miniature console and render it compatible with more than 700 games.

‘Fallout 76’ day one patch is 52 GB, bigger than the 45 GB game

Fallout 76 is a 45 GB download, but its day one patch is even bigger at a hefty 52 GB. The contents of the patch remain unknown, but it will likely incorporate feedback from the game's beta testers.

Fired Treyarch tester spills ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies’ secrets

A former Treyarch employee revealed numerous Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 Zombies secrets. Among the unraveled mysteries were the Viking Boat puzzle in IX and the purpose of the Engine Room valves in Voyage of Despair.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.