Last month turned out to be the worst August in four years for U.S. video game sales, NPD Group said in a report released Friday. Gamers spent $818.9 million on video-game hardware and software last month, down 10% from $910.3 million a year ago, according to the report.
Gamers scaled back on portable-gaming purchases, which fell 25% in August from a year earlier, and played more online games, which are often free, NPD Group says. Software revenue plunged 14% and hardware sales fell 5%. Sales for the year to date are also down, with revenue of $8.37 billion so far, off 8% from the same period last year, according to the report.
The industrywide decline may reflect cash-strapped consumers' movement from new games to used games -- which weren't tracked in the report -- or to free Internet games that are often played through social networks. Almost 57 million people have played a social-network game within the past three months, NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement.
What games did well in the dismal August? Electronic Arts's (ERTS) new Madden NFL 11 was August's most popular title, with sales of 1.8 million games, including both its Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony (SNY) PS3 versions, NPD says. Among older titles, Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy 2, which was released in May, sold the most.