Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Apocalypse Nowish

I just got the latest NPD numbers for May, and they seem to explain why so many games feature post-apocalyptic settings. It's just looking ahead to where the traditional retail channel is heading. Sales overall are down 28% over last May, with hardware dropping an astounding 39%, and software 32%. Accessories were up 7%, but that's a case of the tail lifting up the whole dog.

So far since December, sales have been consistently down 20% or more over last year for both hardware and software. Call me Cassandra, but I think we're looking at 2012 being yet another year of declining video game sales. Sure, there will be bright spots for some companies, but those that aren't looking in other places for substantial growth are delusional. Companies have to find ways to generate revenue other than putting a disc in a box and sending it to retail stores. Fortunately, most seem to have gotten the memo. The question is, can companies make the shifts necessary to thrive as fast as the marketplace is changing?

It's an exciting time, to be sure. Doubtless many executives wish it would be a little less exciting, and more resistant to rapid change.

Here's what NPD said: “YTD 2012, there have been 27% fewer new software title introductions into retail which we believe is a big part of the softness we’re seeing in May sales. A title obviously continues to see sales beyond its launch month, so there is a longer term impact from a narrower array of available new content. That said, we saw some exciting content at E3 that will come to market in the latter part of the year, and when great content comes to market, gamers are still showing up at the stores to buy it.”

Hah. "Softness" is a rather delicate term for a drop that's around a third of your total sales. Try "devastating" or "horrifying" to get closer to the sensations that causes when execs look at the numbers and try to think about meeting payroll.

Time to pull some rabbits out of the hat for the holidays, or else the Grinch will be putting Christmas on eBay for pennies on the dollar.

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