Recent declines in sales of new games at US retail have portrayed a market in decline, but new figures released by NPD Group today go some way to disproving that theory.
The market research firm estimates total US spend on second-hand games, rentals, subscriptions, full-game downloads, DLC, and mobile and social games in the final three months of 2011 came to $2.04 billion.
In December, sales of new games at US retail fell 21 per cent, from $5.07 billion to $3.99 billion; at the time, NPD analyst Anita Frazier admitted it was a "very rough" month, accounting for 23 per cent of total annual sales. The average over the previous ten years was 28 per cent.
In November, there was a modest increase, from $2.99 billion to $3 billion; in October, the US retail market grew from $1.07 billion to $1.08 billion. In the final three months of the year, then, sales of new games at US retail fell by a total of $1.06 billion - other channels, however, brought in almost twice that amount.
It's a flawed comparison, of course - one that doesn't take into account non-traditional sales in 2010 - but given the rapid growth in 2011 of social and mobile gaming in particular, it's vindication for NPD, which has long claimed that retail declines were likely offset by growth in other channels.
NPD has also looked at similar sales in three key European markets. The UK generated almost $508 million, Germany $461 million, and France $320 million.