Sales of videogames last month in the USA fell to their lowest level since October 2006, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Total physical sales of console, portable and PC hardware and software were $743.1 million, a drop year on year of 14 per cent. Software sales were $400.1 million, a drop of 21 per cent from May 2010's $503.8 million.
NPD analyst Anita Frazier said the slump in sales was simply due to less games being released. "This month's story really is about a light release schedule compared to last year," she said. "There were 42 new SKUs introduced in May as compared to 58 last May, and 72 in 2009."
However, the above figures do not include digital sales. While NPD is stepping up its efforts to produce a monthly digital sales chart to reflect the growing prevalance of digital distribution, it is still a work in progress, and Frazier points out that digital sales may have taken sales away from traditional retail channels last month.
"Keep in mind that purchases of content are increasingly occurring in digital format, and May saw a notable digital release in the second map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops," she said. "Undoubtedly, this shifted some dollars that might have been spent on new physical content at retail.” Accordingly, Frazier notes that four of the top ten selling accessories were points cards.
Despite depressing news elsewhere, NPD's figures will have heartened Microsoft: sales of Xbox 360 hardware, software and accessories comprise 34 per cent of total revenue so far this year, an increase of 7 per cent year on year.
Sales also fell last month in the UK: total retail spend was £73.2 million, a 5.4 per cent drop year on year, with software sales falling from 3.3 million units in May 2010 to 2.9 million.