The PlayStation 3 was the best-selling console in September, its first time on top of the hardware charts since November 2006, says EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich, ahead of the month's NPD results.
September is also expected to bring something else we haven't seen in a long time, according to Divnich: Positive numbers. After seven straight months of year-over-year declines, things are starting to look healthy, he says, projecting a 16 percent gain in software sales to $715 million.
The boost is assisted by the fact the average selling price of video game software has inched up 10 percent, says the analyst; unit sales themselves are up only 6 percent, by his count. September saw more big sellers than the same month last year, however, as Divnich says 23 titles sold over 100,000 units, compared to over 18 in September 2008.
As for hardware, the year's slow decline in Wii hardware sales is proving a drag. Divnich says all platform sales are down 4 percent year over year -- although thanks to price cuts, every platform is expected to see increases except for the Wii and PSP.
Even the rhythm genre, on whose decline analysts spent a year speculating, looks like it's back in business thanks to both The Beatles: Rock Band
and Guitar Hero 5
. But even with all these positive signs, Divnich says it's still too soon to loosen the belt completely.
"While September is expected to post impressive year-over-year gains, we do not expect similar trends to continue in October," he warns. "Based upon EEDAR’s forecasts, October’s new releases would need to produce $225 million to post flat year-over-year comps. Currently, EEDAR projects high single digit growth in October, low double digit growth in November, and single digit growth in December."
Divnich also says EEDAR data shows less aggressive price promotions going on at retailers over the last 90 days, which suggests "retail sales are much healthier than in previous months, which has caused retailers to be more conservative with their discounts, a common side-effect of a bullish retail market."
"Overall, September sales and retail data indicates that the pre-holiday season is off to a good start," the analyst says, thanks to lower hardware prices and the launch of desirable titles. "These results will bring some much needed pressure relief to both publishers and retailers alike amidst concerns the economy may still have posed a threat to holiday season performance."