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September 2009 NPD Monthly Videogame Sales Figures
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September 2009 NPD Monthly Videogame Sales Figures

Price cuts from the competitors helps end the half-year industry slump and the PlayStation 3 makes a comeback!

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September introduces the season of fall when the sunshine simmers down on the surface of the northern hemisphere. With a weaker sun the trees begin to lose their wealthy green as the leaves begin tumbling to the ground yellow and brown. No more summertime grass-cutting chores when earth’s natural carpet changes in chlorophyll. Things get more serious in proper autumn with kids back in school battling those books and fashion police chastising those who dare to wear white after Labor Day. Soon it will be time to wear the dreaded windbreaker! Autumn breeze…doesn’t make me feel fine.

But it was anything but a cool reception for the videogame biz judging by September’s figures brought to you by The NPD Group, Inc. “Fall” is the wrong word to describe the economics of the industry with price drops for all 3 home consoles finally ending the long comparative slump the business had been in since March. Enough to make this September the 2nd best one under September 2007 starring Halo 3. Star performer especially this month is the new and improved PS3 Slim! After reaching its much more affordable $299 price, the PS3’s sales have dramatically risen! And not just enough to beat the rival XBox 360 either. I know you can’t wait to see what happened! September’s NPD estimates for the USA below!

Nintendo’s DS sung “ba de ya!” as they danced in September with 524,000 lowercase 9th letters sold in, uh…September. In August, iCaptain sold 552,900 of its dual-camera type showing a mild decrease. The half-a-million DS equation has not been disproved yet as owners turn their handhelds into flipbooks, take silly pics with its cameras, and, uh, play its many games, of course. Can handheld competition finally come to the DS when the all-downloadable PSPgo challenges it in October? I’ll leave that answer to next month’s charts.

Sony’s PlayStation 3 equaled the score in the equinox selling 491,800 super sleek slims in the beginning month of Autumn. In the last full month of Summer, the console phoenix sold 210,000 mega-gigged marvels displaying an impressive increase that more than doubles the last. WOW! Who lit a fire under the PS3? After years of alternating between certain death and valiant underdog, it finally appears that the Slim redesign with the new price has made the console attractive to the public. So attractive that the PS3 broke the tight bond between Wii and DS on the charts wedging itself right in-between. Yes, it’s true. The PS3 has FINALLY beaten the Wii! For the FIRST TIME EVER!! Almost 3 years into the game and Sony’s prize horse has at last surpassed its launch rival (both launched within 2 days of each other in November 2006).

Also, this makes the 2nd month of comparative improved performances over last year’s monthly results. Not to mention that this month’s total is the highest non-holiday season total the PS3 has ever had besting the record from their Metal Gear Solid 4 boost in June 2008. If the PS3 can maintain these numbers for the rest of the year until their 2010 lineup kicks in, we may be seeing an industry first: the phoenix. A lower-ranking competitor who resurrects itself in the middle of a market generation. The rule is once the hierarchy is set it might as well be in stone. May not be enough to stop the Wii but could shift the roles between itself and the XBox 360. Good luck PS3 and good show!

Nintendo’s Wii wowed ever more seniors on Grandparents Day selling 462,800 inviting ivories in the 9th month named for number 7. In the 8th month named for Augustus Caesar, the challenger to PS2’s record status sold 277,400 white whizbangs showing another impressive increase. The pressure was on. Wii’s sales while still topping the other competitors had cooled off some since last year. Sony was finally dropping the price of the PS3 to a reasonable level and Microsoft mirrored their move with a drop of their own for the 360. Though Nintendo denied it at first, there was only one thing to do: drop the price. And the result is increased sales that come close (within thousands) to the PS3’s sales spike.

With New Super Mario Bros. Wii coming in November and sure to be another megahit, the new $199 price is just in time. They’ll ride the fall right into holiday season on the crest of a wave. Has any home console ever held out this long for price drop? Oh yeah, the Nintendo Entertainment System. That’s one record Wii won’t be breaking.

Microsoft’s XBox 360 flew the flag at half-staff in remembrance with 352,600 X-emplary ones sold in the month of Patriot Day. In the month of NFL plays, Major Nelson’s meal ticket sold 215,400 of its now two-tiered kind showing a good increase. The 5-week tracking periods that occur on the last month of a fiscal quarter (like this one) usually add a little weight to the numbers. But the consoles are certainly doing their part to beef up those numbers. And with the 360 streamlining their market model to match the PS3’s while also meeting their price, there’s no doubt that things will be looking up for the rest of the year. November sees the atomic releases of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, both MAJOR (one being exclusive) games to the 360 platform. Will the 360 pour rain on PS3’s new parade?

Sony’s PlayStation Portable sung “wake me up when September ends” after selling 190,400 lighted slims in the month of Labor Day. In the month of International Beer Day, PSP-III sold 140,300 of its third-revision kind showing an increase. Not bad. Still, it’s now Month 13 of selling less than it did in the same month from the year before. PSP-3000 sure didn’t live up to PSP-2000, did it? Let’s see if the October debut of PSPgo can set right what once went wrong with the handheld underdog. At least break this bad sales streak if nothing else. I sure don’t want to write down ‘Month 14’ of decline.

Sony’s PlayStation 2 irritated the old Usenet users selling 146,000 forever consoles in Eternal September. In Everlasting August, the never-ending game system sold 105,900 Krafts of Kutaragi showing an increase. Man! This console must have the soul of Lazarus inside or something. It just won’t die! If this thing makes it through year 11, I’ll eat my socks. Jesus!

Put together, the U.S. videogame industry collected $1.28 billion in total sales, a 1% treetop from last September. Of this billion-dollar figure, total hardware sales fell 6% down to $472.28 million while total software sales piled 5% up to $649.32 million. At the same time, total accessory sales rustled 2% up to $157.33 million. Thank your Wii Motion Plus, kids.

For the year-to-date, the industry grounded 13% down to $10.36 billion in sales. This dip is obviously caused by the half-year of decline which started this March. If the next few months exceed last year’s performance this will balance out the disparity. It’s still a recession going on so this is a big ‘if’. Yep, as always all percentages refer to year-to-year comparisons between September 2009 and September 2008.

Now, when we look at the games there are lots of big stories. But none bigger than Halo 3: ODST. Dwarfing all other contenders with its 7-digit total, this new addition to the Halo saga reminds you of the dominance Halo 3 had on the charts 2 years back in September 2007. Wii’s usual cohorts have been eclipsed by the rising tide in sales leaving only a resort to break the waves. NFL is big this year with the Madden runoff from last month. DS owners wanted to see just what made the Koopa King tick. The Fab Four headlined the music game contestants. And comic book superheroes from the world of Marvel and DC captivated players’ imaginations on screen. You oughta see this Autumn. Check out the last embers of September below!

NPD’s Top Hardware Sales in September

Nintendo DS – 524,200
Sony PlayStation 3 – 491,800
Nintendo Wii – 462,800
Microsoft XBox 360 – 352,600
Sony PlayStation Portable – 190,400
Sony PlayStation 2 – 146,000

NPD’s Top Ten Software Sales in September

01. Halo 3: ODST (X360) – 1,520,000
02. Wii Sports Resort (Wii) – 442,900
03. Madden NFL 10 (X360) – 289,600
04. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS) – 258,100
05. The Beatles: Rock Band (X360) – 254,000
06. Madden NFL 10 (PS3) – 246,500
07. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (X360) – 236,000
08. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) – 212,500
09. Guitar Hero 5 (X360) – 210,800
10. The Beatles: Rock Band (Wii) – 208,600

Hmm, more September embers to remember. Hey look! NPD actually provided numbers for some of the entries. Maybe I need my Cap’n Crunch decoder ring to see the rest…

NPD’s Top Twenty Software Sales in September

11. Batman: Arkham Asylum (X360)
12. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS)
13. Scribblenauts (DS) – 194,000
14. NHL 10 (X360)
15. Need for Speed: Shift (X360)
16. Need for Speed: Shift (PS3)
17. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (PS3)
18. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (DS)
19. Wii Fit (Wii) – 134,000
20. The Beatles: Rock Band (PS3) – 132,400

About the Author: John Lucas