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U.S. video games sales dropped in August 2019

Madden NFL 20

The NPD Group have released their sales report for August 2019 and it doesn’t make great reading for those with a stake in the US gaming industry.

The data firm note that combined US hardware, software, and accessory sales dropped 18% year-over-year to $666 million. The main decline, according to NPD, has come in the hardware sector.

Spending on game hardware in August 2019 dropped 22% from the corresponding month in 2018, continuing a pattern of significant year-on-year sales drops during individual months in 2019. Indeed, NPD point out that game hardware spending has dropped by a double-digit figure in every month of the calendar year so far.

February 2019 was the most resilient month, with US hardware spending only dipping by 12% when compared to February 2018, but August fits the pattern of an overall hardware spending drop of 21% in 2019.

To an extent, this is understandable. Gamers are aware that Microsoft and Sony are preparing to upgrade from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to next generation models in the near future. The advent of Google Stadia and other cloud gaming services also casts doubt on the long-term future of consoles.

The Nintendo Switch, which is much closer to the beginning of its lifespan, has performed well. Indeed, the Switch displayed year-on-year sales growth in August and for the year overall. It was the best-selling piece of gaming hardware in the US in August.

Though software sales haven’t suffered as much in 2019 – there has actually been year-on-year growth of 1% thus far – August was a disappointing month in the software market. Software spending in August dipped year-on-year by 22%, mirroring the decline in hardware spending.

NPD highlight the striking statistic that overall August software revenue of $257 million is the lowest figure since 1998.

On the surface there doesn’t seem to be much to cheer in the US gaming industry, but NPD’s figures should be considered in the context of aging hardware (the PS4 and Xbox One) and what almost everyone considers a slow summer for eye-catching, AAA releases.

NPD’s chart of the 20 best-selling games in August highlights the dearth of striking new releases, with Astral Chain the only new title to crack the top ten (and just, it places tenth) and long-standing releases Minecraft and GTA V placing second and third.

The full top 20 chart is below:

1. Madden NFL 20^
2. Minecraft
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses*
5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
6. Super Mario Maker 2*
7. Mario Kart 8*
8. Mortal Kombat 11
9. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
10. Astral Chain*
11. Marvel’s Spider-Man
12. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
13. Red Dead Redemption 2
14. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
15. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
16. Super Mario Party*
17. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order*
18. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
19. The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
20. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

* Digital sales not included
^ PC digital sales not included

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