The NPD Group's year-end numbers show retail game and console sales took a sharp tumble in 2012.
A combination of aging platforms, fewer game releases and the growing popularity of digital sales made 2012 an ugly year for the retail videogame industry. Following a nine percent slide from 2010 to 2011, disc and console sales fell off by a whopping 22 percent in 2012 over 2011. Total spending on "physical game products" in the U.S. totaled $13.26 billion for the year.
NPD analyst Liam Callahan said that a "major culprit" in the decline of software sales was the relatively small number of new releases over the year. The top-selling game of the year was Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, trailed by Madden NFL 13, Halo 4, Assassin's Creed III and Just Dance 4. Calllahan said that the top ten games accounted for 46 percent of spending in December, the industry's most lucrative month, compared to 36 percent in December 2011, and that sales of "middle-tier" games suffered as a result. The best-selling console for the year was the Xbox 360.
It doesn't look good for the industry, but the news isn't necessarily quite as bad as it might first appear. The NPD considers retail sales only, so while it acknowledges the impact of digital sales, it doesn't factor them into its numbers. EA Labels President Frank Gibeau went as far as to dismiss NPD figures as "totally irrelevant" last July, echoing similar comments made by reps for EA and Activision all the way back in early 2011. It's undoubtedly still bad, but exactly how bad is a little trickier to nail down.
Source: LA Times