Computer Game revenues down in US

Computer game revenues in the US last year were eight per cent lower than in 2008, according to a market research company.

Retail sales of portable and console hardware, software and accessories managed to only scrape a measly $19.66 billion (£12bn) in 2009, compared to the $21.4 billion generated the year before.

The Nintendo Wii and DS were the big winners, moving 3.8 million and 3.3 million units, respectively. The DS made up for 17 per cent of total portable hardware sold in 2009.

However things began to look up for the retailers towards the close of the year. In December, the video game industry experienced its biggest sales month ever, beating December 2008 by four per cent.  The top three game titles for December all belonged to Nintendo, and each sold more than 1.5 million copies.

For the year, the only category to see an increase over 2008 was portable hardware, which was mainly up due to a seven per cent increase in average retail price. Most prices were lowered in the year which, researchers NPD say, explain the low revenues.

“Unit sales were down only six percent from last year. Average retail prices were down in all categories except for portable hardware and accessories, which led to the greater dollar sales decline,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

“January and February were both up, and since the decline that began in March, only September experienced growth,” she said. “The big sales this month, particularly on the hardware front, are a positive move for the industry headed into what will hopefully be a recovery year in 2010.”

 “Clearly, 2009 was a tough year for consumers and the national economy. However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry’s strength; 2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry’s history,” said president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, Michael Gallagher.

PC game software revenues were hit hardest with a 23 per cent drop, generating only $538 million (£329m) all year.