NPD Report: Consoles Good, Games Not So Much

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

NPD Report: Consoles Good, Games Not So Much

So just ahead of the weekend last week, the NPD Group report came out and spelled out gaming by the numbers. Perhaps the biggest point in the article was the unexpected reversal of Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter's bombshell prediction from last week, but amid all the excitement, one thing became clear: the sales of consoles has been pretty brisk, but the game sales have been a mite flat.

Indeed, Pachter's prediction went cock-eyed following the discovery that, indeed, PlayStation 4 sales aced out Xbox One sales, though it was a somewhat closer race than usual. Indeed, both consoles benefited—albeit in different ways—from the arrival of “Destiny”, a game that would go on to drive cries of “loot cave!” that were subsequently and rapidly extinguished. But as a whole, console sales were up and well on the rise, and that's actually contributing to a down market for software.

Right now, there are current-gen games and last-gen games. Current-gen, the Xbox One / PS4 titles, are selling well, but there are not many of either to go around in the first place as many of them have been pushed back to sometime in 2015. Meanwhile, the last-gen games—Xbox 360 and PS3—aren't selling all that well because fewer people are interested in these titles, instead holding out for the fuller experience on the more current console. So while the consoles are doing quite well, the software isn't, because there's either not much of it to go around or there's nothing really driving much attention.

So, as the NPD report elaborates, new games sold at 36 percent less in September 2014 than was seen in September 2013. That may sound like a catastrophe in the making, but the good news is that this is actually less of a hit than was expected, and it can be nicely accounted for thanks to the overall position of the market. After all, back in September 2013—has it really been a year already?--we saw the release of “Grand Theft Auto V,” which was one of the market's great destabilizing agents.

Moreover, as the fourth quarter—and its holiday connections—fires up in earnest, some are looking for another crater month to hit as well. Not so much because of the sales, but because of where the sales take place. The NPD report, at last report, doesn't track digital game sales, which means a fairly substantial portion of the market is getting overlooked here.

Still, though, despite there being perfectly good explanations for a lagging market, a lagging market it is nonetheless. But it's a pretty safe bet that this lagging market is likely to only lag temporarily, a development that's likely to make for plenty of happy gamers out there. With 2015's arrival will come what's set to be an avalanche of great titles, and that's going to make for quite a year indeed.

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