|The chart is small, like the overall sales numbers.|
So far this year, overall sales are down 5% from last year. Of course, NPD was quick to point out that there are a lot of good titles lined up for the 4th quarter: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, SkyRim, SWTOR, and more. NPD's Anita Frazier expects with all of those blockbusters, sales for the year could end up at flat or maybe even a little positive.
I suppose it's good to be optimistic, but I think a more realistic assessment is that the industry would be lucky to see sales end up at even for last year. With all of the big titles coming out around the same time, there's no way customers will have the money or the desire to get all of them. Take one example: Are people really going to buy both Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3? Not when they're coming out within a couple of weeks of one another. Customers will pick one or the other, and then play it for weeks or months until they feel they've gotten their money's worth. Now, if one of these titles came out six months ago... or six months from now... they'd sell a lot more.
More than that, many of the customers for the biggest titles are the type who buy multiple titles... when they can afford them, and when they're not already busy with a new game. Look, if you've been eagerly awaiting Star Wars: The Old Republic, you're going to spend all your gaming time with that once it comes out, at least for a few weeks. Which means you're not going to be picking up Battlefield 3 for a while, even if you plan to eventually. If you have no time to play it, what's the point? So that purchase gets pushed off a month. This scenario will be repeated in many variations. Too many titles at the same time means lower sales for everybody.
It's going to be a very busy holiday season, but don't expect the overall industry tally to be higher than last year. If it is, that's truly reason for celebration... before the sales declines continue in 2012.