U.S. Video-Game Sales Fall 20% in August, NPD Says

U.S. retail sales of video-game software, hardware and accessories declined 20 percent last month to $515.6 million, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.

Hardware sales fell the most, shrinking 39 percent to $150.6 million from the previous year, the Port Washington, New York-based company said today in an e-mailed statement.

The industry is experiencing a long-term slump in retail sales as buyers move to digital downloads and games played on Facebook Inc.’s site, other social networks and mobile devices. Factoring in those sales, NPD estimated U.S. consumers spent $989 million on games in August.

So-called “core gamers,” who buy games for consoles, remain the most important to the industry because they spend on average 35 percent more than others, Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst, said in the statement.

Microsoft Corp. held the lead in console sales in August for the 20th consecutive month. The Redmond, Washington-based company said in a separate e-mailed statement that U.S. retailers sold 193,000 Xbox consoles last month. That was down 37 percent from 308,000 players sold a year earlier, though enough to represent 48 percent of the market for current-generation consoles.

Nintendo Co., the video-game machine maker trying to recover from an annual loss, began selling a larger-screen 3DS XL portable game console in the U.S. on Aug. 19. It represented 44 percent of the company’s portable sales, NPD said. Also this year, Nintendo will begin offering Wii U, the industry’s first new home console since 2006.

Nintendo’s ‘Mario’

Nintendo said the larger-screen unit helped increase 3DS sales 36 percent from July. Its “Super Mario Bros. 2” title sold more than 240,000 units to lead software sales, and console-exclusive “Kingdom Hearts 3D” from Square Enix sold more than 180,000 copies to finish second, the company said in a statement.

Nintendo, based in Kyoto, Japan, didn’t release complete individual sales figures for August. Video-game makers voluntarily report their sales tallies. Sony Corp. often doesn’t report monthly figures, and didn’t for August.

August featured a relatively light slate of new titles as publishers withheld updates of popular shooter games such as “Call of Duty” and “Halo” in anticipation of a pickup in demand for holiday gift-giving in the fourth quarter.

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