The economy is still taking video games for a ride. The most recent round of across-the-board price cuts have helped the situation, but the industry will need a strong November. Not much changed on the hardware side in NPD Group's sales numbers for October 2009, with Sony still enjoying healthy sales on account of the PlayStation 3 shakeup from August, but the first-month sales for PSP go aren't encouraging. Sony's argument that the PSP go isn't a replacement for the existing PSP seems to be holding true, as consumers didn't seem to head to the store to ditch the current model.
The sales figures for October 2009:
- Nintendo DS: 457,600 (down from 524,200)
- Wii: 506,900 (up from 462,800)
- Xbox 360: 249,700 (down from 352,600)
- PlayStation 3: 320,600 (down from 491,800)
- PSP: 174,600 (up from 146,000)
- PlayStation 2: 117,800 (down from 146,000)
Note: tracking for this month was over four weeks, compared to last month's five weeks of data.
Even though the numbers are better than in previous months, sales are down from October 2008. Every platform is likely to see a significant boost in both November and December as a result of the holidays, however, throwing off conclusions about the health of the industry and its outlook as we head into an already busy release schedule for 2010.
"Year-to-date, the hardware category has experienced the sharpest decline in the industry," said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier in her notes for the month's numbers, "with unit sales down 10% compared to the same time period last year. Recent price cuts helped spur a one to two-month increase in unit sales, and this month's Wii sales reflect that boost, but the other platforms have not sustained the sales momentum post price reduction. It will be difficult to discern the impact of the price cut into November and December just because those are always the two best months for the industry anyway, and we'd expect to see a sizeable lift in hardware unit sales as a result of seasonality."
Anecdotally, I know very few people who went out and purchased a PSP go last month. The numbers appear to reflect a possible indifference to the release of the digital-oriented hardware. However, it's impossible to really discuss the health of the PSP go unless Sony themselves releases the numbers, as the NPD Group does not break down hardware sales.
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the charts next month, things are going to get interesting.