Wii titles drag down July video game sales

Combined sales of video games and consoles fell for the fourth consecutive month in July, slumping 1% as U.S. consumers pulled back on buying new titles, with games for Nintendo Co.'s Wii suffering in particular.

A 12% jump in sales of game consoles last month failed to entirely offset an 8% drop in sales of games to play on the devices. Overall, players spent $846.5 million for consoles, games and game peripherals in July, down slightly from $850.6 million a year earlier, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.

“Hardware sales were impressive, but software sales were still down,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

The summer doldrums hit Nintendo software sales for its Wii console especially hard.


While sales of games for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 grew in July, Wii games fell, Pachter said.

“Wii is responsible for all of the annual decline” in software sales, he said. “Wii owners are buying fewer games per capita than people who own the other two consoles.”

With consoles, however, Microsoft hit a bull’s-eye last month, selling 443,500 Xbox 360s — more than double the number it sold in July 2009.

“It’s the first time since September 2007, when Microsoft launched Halo 3, that the 360 was the top-selling hardware platform,” said Anita Frazier, NPD’s games analyst.


Sony nearly doubled its PS3 sales to 214,500 in July, up from 121,800 a year earlier. And Nintendo sold 253,900 Wii consoles, up from 252,500.

Among game publishers, Electronic Arts Inc. scored a touchdown with its debut of NCAA Football 11, which took the No. 1 and 2 spots in the chart of bestselling games for July. Microsoft took third place with Crackdown 2, a shooter game in which players roam freely through a metropolis as a cop on steroids.

The top game title last month, however, was Starcraft II from Activision Blizzard Inc. The game was not included on the list because it is played on computers — the report is restricted to the console market.

Starcraft II sold 721,000 copies last month, more than the No. 1 console game, NCAA Football 11, which sold 692,000 copies.


When sales of console and PC games are combined, the overall game industry’s revenue increased 4% last month, Frazier said.