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‘M'-Rated Games Fuel Rise in Yearly Sales

5 Dec, 2002 By: John Gaudiosi

Despite the gloomy economy, video games remain recession-proof, as video game software sales for October rose 18 percent from September and 74 percent from October 2001, to $416 million, according to data from NPDFunworld.

Video game hardware, accessories and software sales year-to-date through October 2002 are up 25 percent from last year's numbers, accounting for $6 billion in U.S. sales. When you factor in the busy months of November and December, which usually account for 40 percent to 50 percent of the total year's game sales, the gaming industry is expected to break the $10 billion mark domestically and easily clear $11 billion in total North American sales.

“This year has seen unrivaled marketing campaigns, in terms of dollars spent, on selling three hardware systems,” said P.J. McNealy, senior analyst at Gartner G2. “With the new batch of games, the online capabilities of all three systems, and the flood of new software in November and December, this torrid pace will likely continue at least through year's end.”

Year-to-date hardware sales numbers through October 2002 increased 29 percent from the same time period in 2001. Sony, which is on pace to sell about 6.5 million PlayStation 2 systems by year's end, bringing its U.S. installed base to roughly 16.4 million, continues to dominate all categories. Nine of the Top 10 selling games through October are PS2 titles, including Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which sold approximately 1.4 million copies in its first week at retail (and 500,000 in its first day).

Microsoft's Xbox is expected to sell 1.9 million hardware units this year, bringing its U.S. installed base to 5.8 million. Nintendo is bringing up the rear with 1.3 million GameCube hardware sales through 2002 for a total U.S. installed base of 5.3 million.

Game software experienced a rise in sales of ‘Mature'-rated games. Buoyed by the record sales of the two Grand Theft Auto games, ‘M'-rated games sales rose from 6 percent of video games sold last year to 13 percent this year (through October). Microsoft's lone entry in the Top 10 was the ‘M'-rated Halo. With the continued strong sales of Vice City throughout this year and the releases of big ‘M'-rated games like Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, BMX XXX, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Resident Evil 0, this number will likely climb by year's end.

Top 10 Games (all platforms), January 2002 through October 2002
    Game / Platform / Company / Projected Units Sold (in millions)

    1. Grand Theft Auto 3 / PS2 / Take-Two / 4.2
    2. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec / PS2 / Take-Two / 2.3
    3. Madden NFL 2002 / PS2 / Electronic Arts / 2
    4. Metal Gear Solid 2 / PS2 / Konami / 1.5
    5. Halo / Xbox / Microsoft / 1.5
    6. Madden NFL 2003 / PS2 / Electronic Arts / 1.5
    7. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 / PS2 / Activision / 1.4
    8. Final Fantasy X / PS2 / SquareEA / 1.4
    9. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City / PS2 / Take-Two / 1.4
    10. Medal of Honor: Frontline / PS2 / Electronic Arts / 1.2

    Source: NPDFunworld

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