Video game industry sales dropped an uncomfortable 10 percent in June 2011 year-on-year, according to tracker NPD Group, though as usual, NPD's data only accounts for retail sales, thus ignoring a substantial and increasingly crucial swathe of the market. The drop, for bean counters, was from $1.11 billion in June 2010 to $995 million last month, and we're talking the whole caboodle, from software to hardware to accessories.
Here's one surprise: For all the drubbing it took at the hands of critics, Duke Nukem Forever still managed to land the number two software sales spot (Rockstar's L.A. Noire grabbed the top slot). So much for sending the game's publisher the message "not again, please."
But okay, it's summertime, the economy's still hobbling along, people have less disposable income, so we're kind of expecting the industry to dip, right?
Wrong. Or at least not entirely right, if you're sympathetic to Michael Pachter's view. The Wedbush Morgan analyst told the L.A. Times that the drop in Wii and Nintendo DS sales—a substantial portion of last year's June hardware totals—has to do with a broader mobile market shift.
"The DS is losing share because of smartphones,” said Pachter. "Seventy percent of DS users are pre-teens. Within that population, 50 percent are perfectly happy with an iPhone or iPod Touch." Pachter reasons this is why Nintendo's lost access "to about half of that market."
That said, Microsoft claims it reigned supreme in Xbox 360 sales, moving 507,000 units in June, or "nearly twice as many units as other current-generation platforms," while Sony as usual delivered a comparably pithy press statement, eschewing unit numbers and talking instead about its Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta, which surpassed 1.5 million unique players.
Or as Bing (not the search engine) would say, you gotta "ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive."