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Red Dead Redemption Becomes 2010 Top seller; June Video Game Sales Down—USA Today

Mike Snider

With sales of nearly 1 million in June, Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption has become the top-selling video game of 2010, according to the latest sales data from market tracking firm The NPD Group.

The Western game from the Grand Theft Auto developers has now sold nearly 2.5 million. "Red Dead Redemption is going to, as (publisher) Take-Two (Interactive) said, post a profit for them. It's one of biggest sleeper hits of this year and it's likely going to be one of the biggest titles of 2010," says Jesse Divnich of Entertainment Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR).

Red Dead Redemption adds firepower to a "very strong portfolio" for the developer and publisher, he says, with Grand Theft Auto, BioShock and on the way, Mafia II, L.A. Noir and Max Payne 3. "I know people have complained about the process and the length it takes for them to release a game. But at the end of the day Take Two and Rockstar make some of the best games out there," Divnich says.

But critically acclaimed games have not helped the industry keep pace at retail. Overall sales dropped for the third straight month with total sales of video games, console and portable hardware systems and accessories amounting to $1.1 billion, 6% below June 2009.

That decline, says NPD's Anita Frazier, was "driven by decreases in sales of portable hardware and console and portable software. A bright spot was sales of console hardware, which increased 35-percent in unit sales over last June, driven by significant increases in Xbox 360 and PS3 sales."

A rundown of hardware sales:

Nintendo DS -- 510,700
Xbox 360 -- 451,700
Wii -- 422,500
PlayStation 3 -- 304,800
PSP -- 121,000

All three current generation console systems sold more than in June 2009 and "saw a notable uptick from May on an average sales per week basis," Frazier says. "The Xbox 360 experienced its second largest non-holiday month after September '07 when Halo 3 launched, and the PS3 has now garnered 11 consecutive months of year-over-year unit sales increases."

So what is with these monthly declines in sales? Fewer people are buying video games. "Software sales are down, but the top 10 (sellers) for the month sold comparably to what the top 10 did last June," Frazier says. "Game sales are more concentrated this year on the top-selling games."

The Top 10 sellers (Publisher and platform in parentheses):

1. Red Dead Redemption (Take 2 Interactive, Xbox 360) -- 582,900
2. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, Wii) -- 548,400
3. Red Dead Redemption (Take 2 Interactive, PS3) -- 380,300
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo, Wii) -- 200,900
5. Just Dance (Ubisoft, Wii) -- 174,800
6. Wii Fit Plus w/balance board (Nintendo, Wii)
7. Toy Story 3 (Disney Interactive Studios, Nintendo DS)
8. UFC 2010: Undisputed (THQ, 360)
9. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Warner Bros. Interactive, Wii)
10. UFC 2010: Undisputed (THQ, PS3)

Says Divnich, "the core of the market continues to remain strong, but it's the casual consumer that continues to exascerbate these declines. The casual consumer, we have to keep in mind, is more finicky. …. For casual consumers, video games are not necessarily a primary hobby for them. That's why we see them enter and exit. That's why there is so much pressure on the (Sony) Move (motion control system for the PS3, out Sept. 19) and the Kinect (controller-free motion system for Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nov. 4) to deliver and to bring some of these consumers back in."

Despite the downward trend, NPD's Frazier says that industry sales could still top 2009's $19.66 billion and could approach 2008's $21.4 billion mark. "Looking at historical seasonality for the industry, total year U.S. revenues (of new physical sales) could come in anywhere between $18 and $21 billion," she says. "Given the strong slate of content still to come, and the release of the Move and Kinect controllers, which I believe will spark additional interest in gaming, I think we could see the total year new physical retail sales come in at $20 billion. We'll also be reporting consumer reported sales of digitally distributed, rental and used games content to provide insight into those non-POS sources of game sales."

Other notes from NPD's June report:

-- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 sold only 32% of what last year's release sold in its introductory month at retail, Frazier says. " That said, last year's game saw a huge sales increase over previous versions, but still, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 did not break into the top 10 games for the month."

-- The Xbox 360 1600 point card was the top accessory item for the fourth month in a row. "This month, Points & Subscriptions cards was the top-selling accessory type, breaking nine straight months where Gamepads ranked at the top," Frazier says. "The sales of point and subscription cards is another measure of sales of game content that occur outside of the traditional physical retail channels."