According to the NPD Group sales of video games in 2010 were flat compared to 2009 totals. NPD estimates that consumers spent between $15.4 to $15.6 billion on all video game content, not including hardware. That comprises gaming content sales via all monetization methods, including new physical video and PC games, used games, game rentals, subscriptions, digital full-game downloads, social network games, downloadable content, and mobile game apps.
The best-selling game for the month of December, and for the year, was Call of Duty: Black Ops. It sold more than 12 million units across all platforms, which is more than twice as many as the second best-selling title of the year, Madden NFL '11.
The top five games of the year are Call of Duty: Black Ops, Madden NFL '11, Halo: Reach, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Red Dead Redemption. Which means no new IP in the entire list of the top five sellers.
The biggest sales numbers came from new physical content at sold at retail. U.S. retail sales of new physical video game content, which includes portable, console and PC game software, generated revenues of $10.1 billion. That's a lot, but still a 5 percent decline over the $10.6 billion generated in 2009.
One bright spot of the year was sales of new PC games. They were up 3 percent in 2010. Although NPD doesn't say it, I have to figure high profile releases like World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and StarCraft 2 had a lot to do with the increase.
While sales of console games were down, the decline was offset by increased spending on used games, full-game digital downloads and downloadable content, mobile gaming apps, and social network gaming. It's almost like everyone's predictions are coming true: That the future belongs to non-physical game downloads and the "casual" market. The surprise here, to me, is how relatively slowly it's happening.
“The dynamics of games content purchasing changed dramatically in 2010 with options ranging from the physical product to digital downloads on connected devices as well as in-store digital kiosks,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The increasing number of ways to acquire the content has allowed the industry to maintain total consumer spend on content as compared to 2009, and we should expect 2011 to be a growth year in the games industry as the consumer demand for gaming continues to evolve.”
That sounds like a pretty astute summation of the present and future of the gaming market from an expert. But the thing about video game industry analysts is that anyone can be one. That's why I turn to you, the reader, and ask you to do a little analysis of your own. Post your own expert opinions in the comment section below.