Even another record-breaking Call of Duty could not rescue the US video game industry from a twelfth consecutive month of declining software sales in November, according to the latest official figures from the NPD research firm.
But the “packaged goods” disc sales are only a part of the picture, now that we have digital and social and mobile games to take into account. Judging by announcements from Facebook and DeNA this week, hard-core gamers seem just as likely nowadays to be competing in these new gaming territories.
In a week of big numbers for a previously slumping video game industry, Activision has come up with the biggest one of all – $500m in sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops II in its first 24 hours.
On Monday, Microsoft announced $220m in first-day sales for Halo 4 and then revealed, on the 10th anniversary of Xbox Live on Thursday, that a record 442m hours were played on it last week. Meanwhile, Sony announced sales of the PlayStation 3 had passed 70m and Nintendo expects the Wii U to sell out when it goes on sale in the US this weekend.
Microsoft has announced Xbox SmartGlass, a new way of transferring content from smartphones and tablets to a TV, using its home console.
When movies and other media are moved to the TV, the phone or tablet becomes a second screen on the couch, offering more information on what is being shown. Microsoft also announced the long-awaited introduction of its Internet Explorer browser to Xbox, tight integration with devices running the new Windows 8 operating system and a revamped music service. Details from its press conference on the eve of the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles are after the jump.
Video game publishers have had their best November on record in the US, according to the NPD research firm, with hard-core gamers loading up on two first-person shooters and a classic role-playing game.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 from Activision was the top-selling title, with Electronic Arts rival, Battlefield 3, at number three, and the highly-rated Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (pictured) from Bethesda Softworks splitting the two shooters.
Could it finally be time to wave goodbye to passive TV advertising?
A year ago at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Microsoft demonstrated the first in-game ads to use Kinect, its motion-sensing Xbox 360 controller. It was rudimentary but there was clearly huge potential for advertisers in having a camera, microphone and internet connection plugged into the TV.
This week, back in Cannes, Microsoft took a big step forward to unlocking that potential with “NUads”.
Microsoft kicked off this week’s E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles with its usual eve-of-show press conference, where the emphasis seemed to be on consolidating its place in the living room rather than making any ground-breaking announcements. While Sony is expected to reveal more details on its next-generation portable device coming later this year at the show and Nintendo is due to unveil its successor to the Wii, Microsoft confined itself to touting the success of its Kinect motion controller and revealing new features and games that would take advantage of it.
Microsoft’s video game triple-play for the holiday season is Halo: Reach, released in September, its Kinect motion controller out this Thursday in the US and the just-launched Fable III.
Exclusive among consoles to the slimmed-down Xbox 360, these could give Microsoft a winning edge over Sony’s PlayStation 3 and its new Move controller and the Nintendo Wii over the Christmas period.
A new, slimmer Xbox boosted sales of the Microsoft console by 88 per cent in June, but video game software sales slumped 15 per cent.
The latest figures from the NPD research group on Thursday continued a disappointing trend for the industry in 2010, with overall sales down 9 per cent so far this year compared to 2009.
The US video game industry remains in Dead Man’s Gulch despite the success of a spaghetti Western title in May.
The latest figures from the NPD research firm show Take-Two shifted more than 1.5m copies of Red Dead Redemption as the best-selling game of the month, but overall industry sales fell 5 per cent on a year ago to $823m, with console sales down 20 per cent at $241m.