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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 16, 2014 at 4:14 PM

‘Destiny’ ignites console sales, video game rebound continues

Holidays came early for the big video-game companies as hardware sales took off in September, boosted by new blockbuster games.

Smash Bros. Nintendo image.

Smash Bros. Nintendo image.

Sales of consoles were up 200 percent over the same period last year, which was a lull before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched in November, according to the closely watched monthly sales report by NPD. Overall game hardware sales — including handhelds — were up 136 percent.

Game software sales last month didn’t look as spectacular because they paled next to September 2013, when blockbuster “Grand Theft Auto V” was released.

Sales of packaged games at retail were down 35 percent. Game accessory sales were up 33 percent.

Altogether the sales of game products, not counting digital downloads, were up 2 percent over the same period last year in the U.S., to $1.1 billion.

That continues a growth streak as the industry sees monthly sales grow each month compared with 2013 totals, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in the release.

Sony gave much of the credit to “Destiny,” the sci-fi action game created by Bellevue’s Bungie. A special “Destiny” version of the PS4 gave the console its biggest month of the year and overall “Destiny” is the most-played game on the hardware, with players spending five times more time with “Destiny” than the next most popular title.

Memberships in Sony’s premium online network, which PS4 owners must have to compete in online “Destiny” matches, grew 115 percent the week the game launched and sales at Sony’s network store grew 90 percent last month.

“September 2014 was a record-breaking month for PlayStation’s digital business, thanks in large part to the success of Destiny,” Eric Lempel, vice president of Sony Network Entertainment International, said in a release.

NPD’s Callahan agreed, noting in the release that through September, “Destiny” is the top-selling game on a per-unit basis and the year’s most successful game launch so far (although “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” is coming soon).

Wall Street was expecting even higher sales, pulling down publisher Activision’s stock last month. But Callahan said it still had the best launch month of any all-new game franchise.

Big franchises also helped other platforms. Nintendo saw sales of its 3DS handhelds and Wii U consoles grow more than 50 percent higher than August sales, pushed along by “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS” and Wii U titles “Hyrule Warriors” and “Mario Kart 8.”

Nintendo’s counting on a big fall with upcoming launches of “Bayonetta 2” and “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U” and the November debut of its “amiibo” line of character toys that integrate with games.

Here are the top 10 games sold at retail, in physical formats, last month:

Destiny (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3)
Madden NFL 15 (360, PS4, PS3, XBO)
FIFA 15 (PS4, 360, PS3, XBO, Wii, PSV, 3DS)
Super Smash Bros. (3DS)
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (PS4, XBO, PC)
NHL 15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
Minecraft (360, PS3)
The Sims 4 (PC)
Disney Infinity 2.0 (360, PS3, NWU, PS4, XBO)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PS4, 360, PS3, XBO, PC)




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