Video game sales rise only 1% in October

This is not a high scoring year for video games.

With total revenue for physical game sales up only 1% at just over $1 billion in October, the business probably will end the year flat to down 2% compared with 2010, according to researchers at NPD Group Inc.

The once-booming industry’s flat-lining is attributed to consumers not only spending less money in the tough economy , but investing more time in fewer games that they play repeatedly online instead of buying new ones.

NPD’s figures, however, do not include the fast-growing category of online game sales and subscriptions.


Electronic Arts Inc.'s new military shooter Battlefield 3 was the top-selling game in the U.S. last month, NPD said, coming in at just under 2 million units.

Its biggest competitor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, debuted Tuesday, but publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. said the game sold 6.5 million copies in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain on its first day, setting a new industry record.

The No. 2 game in October came from a Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. Its well-reviewed Batman: Arkham City sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S.

The highest-profile new game to not break into NPD’s top 10 was Activision’s new children’s title Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, which landed at No. 11.

Dancing games continue to be one of the industry’s hottest genres. Sales spiked 135% in November compared with a year ago, led by Ubisoft’s Just Dance 3.

Among the consoles that gamers play on, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 led the pack, with sales up 20% over last October to 393,000 units.

November probably will be the biggest month of the year for the video game industry, with a number of highly anticipated sequels hitting store shelves just ahead of the holiday shopping season. They include Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.