“The numbers don’t lie,” says every financial analyst when faced in a turbulent time. It could be argued, however, that when it comes to video gaming, the culture and the sales are in a disparity. Video gaming enthusiasts will adopt new IPs, buy sequels, and lead the charge that gaming is an entertainment unmatched by any other medium. Curiously, even in the height of its cultural popularity, the U.S. retail sales of games are lower than expected.
August, fortunately, surged up sales in gratitude to titles, New Super Mario Bros.2 (for the Nintendo 3DS), Darksiders 2 (PS3 & XBOX 360), and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (also for the 3DS). While this glimmer of hope bodes well currently, the future is another type of demanding beast.
The NPD Group (a leading North Amercican market research company) reported that overall sales year-over-year have been in decline; $515.6 million in August, a 20% decline compared to August 2011. Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst, stated the software space is still suffering because of the sparse release lineup from earlier this year. This has plentiful credit given the sparse release schedule known to all gamers as the, “Summer Drought.”
However, one blatant elephant in the room is the stagnant hardware space. It’s been nearly 6 years since the launch of the XBOX 360, 5 years since the PlayStation 3 and also 6 years for the Nintendo Wii. In fact, hardware ended up being the industry’s biggest negative contributor for August 2012, as sales dropped 39% to $150.6 million.
Whether the lack of innovative titles on current hardware or lack thereof next gen hardware is the true sales decline culprit, one truth remains: hardware can only produce so much gaming innovation.