Microsoft is celebrating another number-one finish in the video game console wars, this time for October, its 20th consecutive month in that spot. But the Xbox 360 continues to reign over a seriously diminished market: According to the researchers at NPD, video game sales fell a whopping 25 percent year over year in that month, with hardware sales plunging an even worse 37 percent.
“October was another month of steep declines in retail sales,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “We are looking forward to November 2012 with [new software titles] along with the [Nintendo] Wii U launch to provide a much needed boost to retail sales.”
Microsoft says it sold 270,000 Xbox 360 consoles in October and controlled 56 percent of the market for video game consoles in the United States. This is the 20th month in a row that the Xbox 360 has garnered 40 percent or higher market share in the United States, the firm claimed.
Furthermore, consumers in the United States spent $315 million on the Xbox 360—consoles, accessories, and software—in the month, more than on the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 combined. Six of the top 10 games were Xbox 360 titles, as well.
Sounds great. But as has been the case for all of 2012, the Xbox 360 rules an industry in trouble, with the market for consoles pretty much saturated. Hardware and software sales have been down year over year for much of 2012 and the industry’s Hollywood-like sequel trend is starting to backfire: Sales of recent sequels in the Medal of Honor and Resident Evil franchises have been mostly underwhelming.
That said, 2012 could experience a bit of a bump with the one-two punch of two of the most eagerly-awaited video game sequels, Halo 4, which launched this week, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which hits next Tuesday. Both are expected to be blockbuster hits, especially on the Xbox 360, and the recently released Assassin’s Creed III could perform well, too.
But the Xbox 360’s reign on top of the hardware charts could end as soon as Nintendo jumpstarts the next console generation with the release of its Wii U on November 18. Microsoft and Sony aren’t expected to update their consoles until next year at the earliest, so Nintendo will enjoy at least a year’s head start.