September Video Game Sales Tumble, Microsoft Ascendant, Sony Mum

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Halo Reach

It's bad news for everyone but Microsoft this month, with Halo: Reach putting the Xbox 360 over the top, but overall industry sales slumping 8%. Revenue dropped from $1.32 to $1.22 billion year-on-year, bringing the year-to-date total to $9.89 billion, or eight points behind last year's $10.75 billion.

Bear in mind we're talking strict retail data here. As NPD notes, "these numbers reflect the largest channel for hardware, software and accessories sales, but there are content sales happening elsewhere." Meaning digitally, of course.

And that's about all we can report officially, since NPD just moved unit sales figures behind its pay-wall. That's too bad, mostly because it means inaccurate figures from sites known for guesstimating could come to the fore. But you can't blame NPD. They're a for-profit business, and figures based on retail surveying and data collation are services rendered. They've been provided gratis for years.

What we can do, is wait a bit until the numbers appear by proxy from trusted sources, as they already have for September, courtesy after action analyst reports.

September 2010 hardware unit sales, compared to September 2009, August 2010 respectively.

484k - Xbox 360 (+37%, +36%)
312k - PlayStation 3 (-37%, +38%)
254k - Wii (-45%, -4%)

The Xbox 360 soared last month thanks to Halo: Reach, giving Microsoft an impressive year-on-year boost, even more impressive considering Halo 3: ODST was topping the charts this time last year. Microsoft Xbox 360 numbers come from a sales summary report the company released yesterday quoting NPD's (unreleased) unit estimates.

Sony's longstanding year-on-year growth finally reversed, but that's mostly due to a difficult comparison, since the price-reduced slimline PS3 launched last September. We don't have Move sales specific, and Sony declined to release a monthly sales summary, so we're in the dark on motion-control for the moment. I'm pulling PS3 unit numbers from Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who issued a market summary paper this morning.

While we don't have DS or PSP unit tallies, Pachter's year-on-year grid shows PSP and DS sales declining 44% and 23% respectively, so it's grim news all around for portables, probably exacerbated by those of us wish-listing a 3DS or PSP2.

And here's September 2010 software, though NPD no longer ranks by platform.

1. Halo: Reach (360)
2. Madden NFL 11 (360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP)
3. Dead Rising 2 (360, PS3, PC)
4. NHL 11 (360, PS3)
5. FIFA Soccer 11 (360, PS3, PS2, PSP, NDS)
6. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)
7. Mafia II (360, PS3, PC)
8. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (PS3, 360, NDS, Wii)
9. Metroid: Other M (Wii)
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360, PS3, PC)

NPD did provide Halo: Reach sales, which came to 3.3 million units, not including those in hardware bundles, and you'll note that it still topped the list against multi-platform juggernaut Madden NFL 11.

NPD notes that accessory sales were "the only category up in dollar sales for the month, driven by sales of Specialty Controllers and Audio," including "the new Playstation Move Navigation controller and Sports Champions bundle, which contributed to this accessory type's growth."

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