Lack of Major Videogame Launches in January Drags Down Sales

After a number of epic videogame launches prior to the holiday shopping season, publishers took a month off by not releasing any major titles during January.

As a result, the industry saw a double-digit decline in physical software sales at retail, according to NPD, which tracks the industry.

It said last year new launches represented 13 percent of videogame sales in January, but that last month, the performance of new launches dropped by 99 percent, said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

Videogame sales for console and handheld game units from retail totaled $356 million in January, falling 38 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Overall sales, including hardware, accessories and software, dropped 34 percent.

But the drop can’t be blamed entirely on the lack of new launches. Sales of titles launched in the fourth quarter also performed poorly, falling 31 percent in units compared to the year-ago period.

“As shoppers were not drawn to stores due to new launch activity, this potentially impacted additional software purchases made on impulse,” Callahan said in a release.

NPD also estimated sales from used games, downloadable content and social and mobile games. It says those channels accounted for an additional $350 million to $400 million in sales.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 continues to be the best-selling console, and Activision’s first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 continues to be the top-selling game title. Sony is banking on a spike in sales from the launch of the PlayStation Vita portable unit, which is expected to hit the market Feb. 22, along with 25 new titles.

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