Video Games Industry Underperforms in 2010

If what goes up must come down, then what goes down occasionally bounces.

But not in 2010. The video games industry dipped for the second year in a row according to retail spend estimates released by sales tracker NPD Group last night.

NPD claims spending on physical gaming hardware, software, and accessories in 2010 was $18.6 billion. That's a 6 percent drop from 2009's $19.7 billion, which was itself an 8 percent drop from 2008's record $21.4 billion. Analysts had earlier in the year suggested late 2010 sales, hypothetically bolstered by new motion control products from Microsoft and Sony, might raise lagging year-to-date numbers to a flat year-on-year finale. No such luck, it seems.

2010's estimated total "consumer spend" on games content--excluding hardware, but including newer indices like rentals, digital sales, and subscriptions--was between $15.4 and $15.6 billion, which NPD says was roughly on par with 2009. The company says it'll release a final analysis of the figure in March.

On the upside, PC physical game sales enjoyed a modest boost, up 3 percent over 2009. Accessory sales were the other spot of bright news, rising by 13 percent year-on-year, though owing to a 20 percent spike in average retail price.

Brighter days ahead? Perhaps. Bring on L.A. Noire, The Last Guardian, and pretty much anything else without a 2, 3, 4, or 5 in its name.

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