December 2009 NPDs

January 15, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  

Yesterday, the NPD Group revealed its U.S. console retail numbers for December and for the full year of 2009. Year-end NPD results provide a key metric in judging the health and overall trending of the game industry.

Analysts have been aware for some months that the year 2009 was not keeping pace with the previous year, and this turned out to be true, down 8 percent to $19.66 billion.

Every market segment declined in 2009 — except for portable hardware, which rose 6 percent. Seven out of the ten best-selling games of the year were first-party Nintendo titles, and the number one game of the year was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

GameStop and several major publishers, like Electronic Arts, Take-Two and Ubisoft, all recently lowered their fiscal year forecasts on a weak market, and analysts awaited results of the industry’s performance in December to predict rebound potential in 2010.

But in slightly better news following a tough year, the video game industry saw December revenues up 4% to $5.53 billion — not only its best holiday yet, its best single sales month on record. Nearly all analysts had expected December to be flat, if not down.

However, video game software sales were still down 7% to $2.58 billion for the month. So, given the challenging climate that so many companies face, an overall boost is a ray of light for the year to come, even if game publishers did not feel the benefit.

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