Video game sales down in 2010, but Xbox 360 sets record

It was another year of declining sales for the gaming industry. Video games sales fell for the second straight year in 2010, according to a new report by the NPD Group.

Sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories totaled $18.6 billion in 2010. That’s a 5.7 percent drop from $19.7 billion in 2009, and a further decline from 2008’s figure of $21.4 billion.

Console sales in 2010 fell to $6.3 billion, a 12.5 percent decline from 2009. Software sales reached $9.4 billion, a 5.6 percent decline from 2009.

There were a few bright spots, however. Sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 actually rose in 2010 — the only console to show a gain from its 2009 figures. The holidays were particularly good to the Xbox 360. The five-year old console posted its best sales month ever in December with a 1.86 million units sold, a 42 percent increase from December of 2009.

The Xbox 360’s rebirth can be mostly attributed to the success of the motion-sensing controller Kinect, which launched in early November. Microsoft says that it sold 8 million Kinect units during the accessory’s first 60 days on the market. The Kinect and the Playstation’s Move fueled a 13 percent increase in sales of gaming accessories in 2010.

PC games also were up slightly in 2010, with a 3 percent increase in sales from 2009.

The NPD Group expects that 2011 will likely be kinder to the gaming industry. The report cites the explosion of mobile games and social media-based games as key players in the gaming industry’s future.