Is January’s sharp drop in retail sales a plea for new gaming options?

consolesUS Gamers’ wallets have been slow to pry open in 2012. January marked an exceptionally sharp slump in video game hardware, software and accessory sales. When compared to the past two years, the data could signify a trend that consumers are restless for other gaming options.

According to the NPD market research firm, total retail sales for gaming in the US was $750 million, which is down 34% from $1.14 million in January 2011. Gaming hardware sales totaled $324 million, a number which G4 says is the worst it’s been since January 2004. Consumers spend only $199.5 million on gaming systems in the US—a number that dropped by 38%.

The Xbox 360 led the console pack with 270,000 units sold; however that number is significantly lower than last year’s 381,000. As Microsoft’s console owns 49%, that means other console sales combined equals 281,000. The Nintendo Wii and the PS3 sold 320,000 and 267,000 units respectively last January.

“Last year, sales of new releases accounted for 13% of dollar sales, but this year that dropped 99%,” said the NPD analyst. “Games like Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2, and DC Universe Online ranked within the top ten last year, making for a poor comparison in January ’12 where there were no major releases.”

The top selling games for the month of January are 2011 releases:

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision Blizzard)
  2. Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft)
  3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks)
  4. NBA 2K12 (Take 2 Interactive)
  5. Battlefield 3 (EA)
  6. Madden NFL 12 (EA)
  7. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo)
  8. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (Activision Blizzard)
  9. Zumba Fitness 2: Party Yourself (Majesco)
  10. Saints Row: The Third (THQ)

call_of_duty_modern_warfare_3_wallpaperIt could be that this past January was just a blip; a combination of fatigue from the 2011 holiday shopping season and the lack of noteworthy releases in the month other than Soulcaliber V. However, Wedbush Security Michael Pachter believes the software sales to be “hard to digest” as January sales have averaged $518 million, and wonders about NPD’s data.

The NPD report offers some explanation, and believes that consumers may have spent “$350 million to $450 million on games elsewhere than retail,” such as used games, add-on content downloads, social gaming, mobile gaming, rentals and subscriptions.

Retail sales in January have been steadily dropping; with hardware sales down by 8 percent in January 2011 compared to the previous year, and total retail sales in January 2010 declining by 13 percent when compared to January 2009. Pachter points out that sales are below the level from 2004. This seems to buck the idea the US is turning into a gaming nation, according to Parks Associates analysis of gaming trends between 2008 and 2011. However, 80 percent of the Parks US gamers tended to be social gamers or prefer free-to-play games.

Perhaps it’s just January, or it could be that social, free-to-play and mobile games are truly overwhelming traditional gaming; or possibly the sales reflect a need for new consoles. NPD analyst Anita Frazier pointed out in mid-January 2012 that total consumer gaming spending for all monetization methods was down by approximately 2 percent when compared to 2010. Frazier concluded by saying, “Overall industry results are not entirely surprising given that we are on the back end of the current console lifecycle, combined with the continued digital evolution of gaming. Core gamers continue to be engaged and spend on established franchises across both the digital and physical format.”

Source: USA Today

Gaming

The Epic Games store is already luring indie studios away from Steam

The Epic Games Store is less than a week old, but it's already making waves among indie studios. Multiple studios have announced that their games will be timed exclusives on the Epic Games Store, with one studio forgoing Steam completely.
Deals

Here are the best laptop deals for December 2018

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some holiday shopping for a special someone, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Mobile

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ removes the Infinity Blade weapon after player backlash

Following player backlash over the Infinity Blade weapon's inclusion in Fortnite's battle royale mode, Epic Games decided to remove the weapon from the game completely. It was not limited to a special mode.
Gaming

Want every suit in 'Marvel's Spider-Man' for PS4? Here's how to get them all

Marvel's Spider-Man features a whopping 33 different suits for Peter Parker to wear as he swings across New York City knocking out baddies. Here are all the suits and how to unlock them.
Gaming

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

Find the perfect weapon in 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' multiplayer with our guide

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has several different guns to choose from in its multiplayer mode, and they're split across multiple classes. Here's a guide to all of them and when you should use them.
Gaming

New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Gaming

Underwater survival game ‘Subnautica’ free on Epic Games’ online store

The award-winning underwater survival game Subnautica is currently available as a free download on the Epic Games store. The Steam challenger looks to attract players with a new free game every two weeks.