Video game sales in Canada plummeted in June, mirroring a similar decline in the United States, according to market researcher NPD Canada.
Retail sales for hardware, software and accessories in Canada dropped 31 per cent from the same month in the previous year, from $158.4 million to $109.8 million, NPD said. The drop in June was also 31 per cent in the U.S., where sales fell to $1.17 billion US.
NPD Canada analyst Matthew Tattle said the ongoing recession was one of the factors in the decline, as Canadians didn't invest in as much hardware and have purchased fewer games this year. For the year-to-date, video game industry retail sales are down 16 per cent from last year.
Tattle said those numbers would be even worse if it weren't for the launch of Nintendo's DSi, the latest version of the Japanese video-game maker's popular handheld console, which has helped drive sales in 2009.
While other consumer electronics companies saw steep declines in sales towards the end of 2008, the video game industry and particularly Nintendo bucked the trend and appeared to be recession proof. But in 2009, the industry has shown it isn't immune to a drop in consumer spending.
Hardware sales have been particularly hard-hit. June sales in the U.S. tumbled 38 per cent to $382.6 million from $617.3 million last year. Tattle said hardware sales in Canada posted a similar steep decline.
Software sales in June also declined in terms of units (17 per cent) and dollar value (26 per cent), said Tattle. The disparity between unit and dollar sales can be attributed to a drop in sales for high-end games such as Rock Band.
Tattle said there are a number of factors contributing to the decline in sales, including a lack of comparable titles to Grand Theft Auto IV, which was released in April of last year and a rise in online downloading of expansions to existing games, sales of which NPD does not track.
In Canada, the top-selling video game for consoles in June was also a surprise: mixed martial arts fighting game UFC 2009 Undisputed.
The XBox 360 version of the game was the top-seller in Canada, and the Playstation 3 version was the fifth-biggest seller. Tattle said the game has sold 184,000 units in Canada since it was launched in May.