NPD has released its report for April 2012 retail sales in the US, outlining one of the sharpest declines in industry sales in recent years.
Total industry sales fell 32% year-over-year to $630.4 million. Software across PC, handhelds and consoles fell 42% year-over-year to $292.1 million, while hardware sales declined 32% year-over-year to $189.7 million. Accessories was the only area to experience, rising 1% year-over-year to $148.6 million.
An early Easter is to blame according to NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
“This year, Easter fell very early in April, which means most Easter-related purchases may have fallen into March this year, whereas last year, Easter fell late in April causing most sales to fall in that month. We usually find that Easter-related purchases generate an extra 10 percent in revenue in the month they occur, so some of the softness compared to last April could be attributed to the shift in Easter timing," she stated.
Xbox 360 was the biggest selling console for the month of April with 236,000 sales, making it the 16th consecutive month as the lead-selling console in the US and the 14th consecutive its held 40% of marketshare within the current-gen systems.
Total Xbox 360 spend for April (hardware, software and accessories) was $261 million, "the most for any console in the US and more than the spend on the other two current-generation consoles combined," according to Microsoft.
Sony focused on its digital content, highlighting thatgamecompany's Journey and digital SKUs for PlayStation Vita in its statement, but didn't drop specific hardware numbers.
"According to the April NPD, the PlayStation ecosystem continues to grow with exclusive titles such as MLB12: The Show landing in the top 5 SKUs," said senior director of corporate communications, Dan Race.
"Digital-only software titles, including Journey for PS3 and Escape Plan for PS Vita, helped to further bolster growth. PS Vita is gaining momentum as major new software titles like Mortal Kombat and social applications, such as Skype, saw strong demand with consumers.
"With E3 around the corner, PlayStation remains laser focused on continuing to deliver the industry's best gaming experiences."
Nintendo has yet to provide a statement.
Despite those, the reduction in sales by quantity is likely far greater than evident based on sales figures alone. “The average selling price for hardware increased over last April, with one of the drivers of that increase being the Star Wars Kinect 360 bundle, which included the Xbox 360 console and controller, a Kinect sensor, and Kinect Star Wars game," Frazier noted.
Despite an overall reduction in sales, Frazier is optimistic that the industry is still healthy, at least in the case of Nintendo's 3DS. “One thing to keep in mind is that the 3DS has outsold the DS by about one million units in their respective first 14 months in the market, and the DS went on to become the best-selling gaming hardware system ever," she said.
Prototype 2 was the top-selling title for the month of April, but its sales were less than impressive when compared to the top-sellers for the month of April 2011.
“I think what the new physical retail content sales reflect a very light release schedule in terms of the amount of compelling new games. Last April, the top seven titles outsold the top-selling title this year, and, simply stated, there were notably fewer new market introductions. I think it’s a simple as that because when we see compelling content come into the market, the games are still selling as well as ever – we just saw a lot less this April as compared to last," Frazier said.
Once again speaking positively about the sales performance of 3DS, Frazier stated that “Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS ranked among the top 10 SKU’s for the month, and would have made the list if we were reporting on SKU rather than total title level.” This resonates comments she made last month about the title's performance.
Despite the reduction in physical software sales, there was a significant increase in the sales of points and subscription cards for online content. “For some insight into digital purchasing of content, we can look at the performance of points and subscription cards which was up 75 percent in units over last April. These could very well have been last minute additions to Easter baskets early in the month," according to Frazier.
Xbox 360 dominated software sales with eight of the top 10 US console game titles including: Prototype 2, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, and, the Xbox 360-exclusive, Kinect Star Wars.
The top ten reads as follows:
- Prototype 2 - 360, PS3 - Activision Blizzard
- Kinect Star Wars - 360 - Lucasarts
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - 360, PS3, Wii, PC - Activision Blizzard
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 - 360, PS3 - Electronic Arts
- NBA 2K12 - 360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PC, PS2 - Take-Two Interactive
- The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings - 360, PC - Warner Bros. Interactive
- Mario Party 9 - Wii - Nintendo
- Mass Effect 3 - 360, PS3, PC - Electronic Arts
- Just Dance 3 - Wii, 360, PS3 - Ubisoft
- MLB 12: The show - PS3, PSV - Sony
Activision's Skylanders has proven a success in the accessories division, with sales of the game's associated figurines continuing to experience strong sales six months after the game's debut. “Skylanders characters remain a strong driver of accessory sales. The three character pack SKU’s have sold just under 10 million units in the U.S. since their launch into the market last October," Frazier said.