After a slight reprieve in September, U.S. video game retail sales slumped again in October, unable to escape the economic turmoil that's cutting into consumer spending and swelling the ranks of unemployed.
Market researcher NPD Group said Thursday total sales of video game hardware, software and accessories fell 19 percent in October from the same month last year, to $1.07 billion. Year-to-date sales were down 13 percent at $11.43 billion. It is unlikely that the industry will be able to match last year's record sales, which topped $21 billion.
But for a business that makes most of its money during the holidays, things may not be as bleak as they seem. Industry analysts expect November sales to pick up again.
"Based on typical industry seasonality, the industry is on track to generate full-year revenues in the range of ($20 billion to $21 billion) in the U.S., which would put it just a bit below last year's sales," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
Not included in the October sales figures is Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," which went on sale Tuesday and broke entertainment records on its first day in stores. According to its publisher, it raked in an estimated $310 million in North America and the United Kingdom in 24 hours.
With that game, and others such as Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed 2" and Nintendo's "New Super Mario Bros.," November is poised to be a strong month for the industry.
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said Thursday his company expects a strong holiday season.
October sales of gaming hardware fell by nearly a quarter to $380.7 million.
The Wii from Nintendo was the month's best-selling gaming system, followed by the handheld DS, also from Nintendo. Sony's PlayStation 3 was in third place.
All three of the gaming console makers — Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo — have cut the prices of their systems in the past few months to entice budget-conscious shoppers. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Sales of gaming software declined 18 percent, to $572.7 million, and accessory sales slid 2 percent to $118.9 million.
NPD said the top games included "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" and "Wii Fit Plus."