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August NPD Up Sharply As Madden Dominates

The first details of NPD game sales data in the U.S. for August have emerged, with Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 07 dominating overall sales for the month, which sur...
The first details of NPD game sales data in the U.S. for August have emerged, with Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 07 dominating overall sales for the month, which surged even more than expected as both next-gen and current-gen game sales moved higher. According to reports from analyst firm Wedbush Morgan, total U.S. console software sales for August were $397 million, up 17.5% compared to last year and much higher than the company's $360 million estimate. Year-to-date console software sales (excluding PC) are $3.105 billion compared to 2005 year-to-date sales of $3.014 billion (a year-over-year increase of 3%). Compared to the previous year, current generation software sales declined $56 million (-18%), $30 million better than WM expected. Next generation software sales increased by $116 million, $8 million better than the company's estimate. The PlayStation 2 version of EA's perennial Madden NFL franchise was the number one selling game of the month, with over 850,000 units sold, followed at number two by the Xbox 360 version at over 450,000 units. Overall the title sold over 1.8 million units just from the versions featured in the top ten, which included special Hall Of Fame editions. Capcom’s Dead Rising also performed extremely well during the month, with over 330,000 units sold at number three in the charts, ahead of the critically mauled Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus at number five. Elsewhere in the charts, New Super Mario Bros. continued to perform well at number six, with the PlayStation 2 version of NCAA Football 07 at number seven and the PS2 version of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories at number nine. Notably, Pachter pointed out that there were nine games selling more than 100,000 units apiece in August, versus his estimate of five and compared to three last August. The top 10 games captured 37% of dollar sales and 23% in unit sales in August versus 22% and 16% last month, reflecting very strong sales for newly released games this month. In terms of hardware, the Nintendo DS once again led the other formats over 270,000 units sold, just ahead of the PlayStation 2. This again forced the Xbox 360 into third place with just over 200,000 units sold, followed by the Game Boy Advance just over 150,000 units and the PSP in fifth place at just under that figure. Discussing overall Xbox 360 sales, Wedbush Morgan noted: "Through August, NPD data shows that Xbox 360 hardware sales in the U.S. were 2.4 million units, and sales in August were at the low end of our 200,000 – 300,000 unit estimate. The Xbox 360 is now readily available and we expect Microsoft to sell another 200,000 – 300,000 hardware units in September and October, with a lift to 750,000 – 1.2 million units during the holidays when a strong lineup of Xbox 360 games is anticipated." However, the analyst caution that at the midpoint of their estimates, the installed base of the Xbox 360 will only be around 5 million in the U.S. at year-end, meaning that "expectations for sellthrough in excess of 1 million units for any [third-party] game are unrealistic". It was noted: "In our experience, only a handful of third party titles (notably the GTA series) has ever captured greater than 10 – 15% market share on any console." Commenting on the results, Wedbush Morgan's Pachter noted: "Year-to-date software sales (including PC) are up 4% compared to last year, tracking to our +4% forecast. There may be some potential for even greater growth over the next few months, when year-over-year comparisons are more favorable." He concluded: We think that there will be a modestly positive market reaction to the robust August sales growth. We continue to be pleasantly surprised that software sales through the summer months have been so strong, and now believe that the decline in current generation software will be more modest than we initially expected. We also believe that for the next several months, next generation software sales will more than offset the current generation decline." Finally, it was noted that NPD revised the figures originally reported for July 2006 video game console software sales due to a reporting error. July 2006 software sales were revised down 2.2% to $378 million (from $386 million) and unit sales were reduced 1.5%.

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