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NPD September: sales up 67% on August, sports dominate

The NPD Group's regular month report on US retail spend noted another year-on-year decline, but also a jump in sales as the holiday season approaches.

Overall industry spend was $848.3 million, a 24% year-on-year decline. It's the tenth consecutive month to note an overall decline.

No category managed a year-on-year increase this month. Hardware sales dropped 39% to $210.9 million, while software sales dipped 14% to $547.3 million. Even accessories, which has performed most strongly over the last year thanks to the persistent popularity of Skylanders, dropped 11% to $139.9 million.

Taking the helm from regular analyst Anita Frazier this month, the NPD's Liam Callahan soothed fears with a nod towards ramping holiday sales and the NPD's inability to track non-traditional sales.

"While year-over-year declines are present in video game software, we are seeing momentum leading up to the holidays when looking at August sales compared to September, which were up 67% on an average sales-per-week basis," he said.

"These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software and accessories, which account for roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games. When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in September such as used and rentals at $191MM, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and the consumer spend on social network games at $488MM, we would estimate the total consumer spend in September to be just under $1.6B."

A series of sports games released in late August and early September definitely took over the charts; Madden NFL 13 was, of course, the major winner, selling through 1.65 million copies in its first week.

Borderlands 2, which topped the original game's first-month effort by 234% to reach 1.48 million sales, was the next big seller, - but FIFA 13 slipped in behind; EA Sports noted a 42% year-on-year increase in the soccer sim's sales.

It's worth noting that PC software sales did raise a blip, up 12% year-on-year, likely thanks to Guild Wars 2 and Mists of Pandaria. Guild Wars 2 easily out-performed Mists of Pandaria but as both titles will have shifted a huge number of digital units it's probably not wise to draw any conclusions.

3DS software also jumped, with an 89% year-on-year increase thanks to New Super Mario Bros 2, which sold 295,000 units in its second month to take fourth place in the chart.

Full chart below.

  1. Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSV)
  2. Borderlands 2 (360, PS3, PC)
  3. FIFA Soccer 13 (360, PS3, PSV, Wii, 3DS, PSP)
  4. New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS)
  5. Guild Wars 2 (PC)
  6. NHL 13 (360, PS3)
  7. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC)
  8. NCAA Football 13 (360, PS3)
  9. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (wii, 360, NDS, PS3, 3DS, PSV, PC)
  10. Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)

Nintendo and Microsoft both send glowing accounts of their own performances to accompany the NPD's release. Nintendo's comments were brief, noting only the 3DS software surge mentioned above, and carefully overlooking an 18% decrease in combined DS and 3DS sales, as noted by Michael Pachter.

Microsoft continued its domination of the US market, shifting 270,000 Xbox 360 consoles and holding 49% of market share among current generation consoles. It's the 21st consecutive month the platform has led the US market.

Total Xbox 360 platform spend in September reached $380 million, which Microsoft said is more than that spent on PlayStation 3 and Wii combined.

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