Video game sales have officially been in decline for nearly a full season. The NPD results are in, and they show that gaming sales in the States only reached $669.9 million for the month of August. That’s a 23% dip in sales when compared to August of last year, and it’s the fourth month of year-to-year decline in a row.
The only sector of gaming sales to actually grow this month, when compared to August of 2010, was that of portable gaming hardware. The industry can thank the massive Nintendo 3DS price cut that came on August 12th for that. The reduction led to a 260% increase in sales for the struggling portable.
The rest of the gaming world did not enjoy much success.
I’m going to go out on a limb now and take a stab at why the gaming industry is seeing such a sharp decline over these past four months: there haven’t been any games. This summer has enjoyed only a handful of quality releases, and only two of those games have been great sales performers (Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Madden NFL 12).
As both a writer and a gamer with a deep love for this industry, I don’t think I’ll ever understand why publishing companies insist upon keeping their banner products out of the public’s hands until the holiday season. Sure, ten or fifteen years ago that may have been the only way to get your product noticed by potential buyers. However, the gaming industry has changed dramatically with the growing popularity of Internet media. Parents aren’t the only ones buying games nowadays. Moreover, gamers have access to trailers, screenshots, previews, reviews and a ton of info for games far in advance of their release dates. Pinning every big game to the tail end of the calendar year doesn’t make sense anymore.
In fact, I’d argue that spreading product out over the full twelve month cycle would give titles more room to breathe and, more importantly for sales, gamers more time to spend their money.
Wouldn’t you rather see releases spread out over the year rather than clumped up between September and November?