August U.S. Video Game Software Sales Hit Lowest Point in 20 Years

Madden NFL 20 -Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of EA

'Madden NFL 20' was the best seller, marking the seventh consecutive year the sports title has topped the list in its launch month, but it couldn't keep overall industry sales from dipping to a historic low.

August saw a sharp decline in video game sales across hardware, software and accessories in the U.S., the NPD Group reports. 

Overall spending over the period totaled $666 million, an 18 percent downturn year-over-year. For year-to-date 2019, spending across the video game industry has fallen six percent from 2018 to $7 billion total. Declines in hardware sales are mostly to blame, offsetting slight software sales growth across the industry thus far this year.

That said, video game software sales dropped drastically last month, 22 percent year-over-year, to $257 million, marking the worst total sales figure in the month of August since 1998 ($234 million). However, the total dollar sales in the year to date are still up 1 percent, to $3.1 billion, over 2018, driven by titles on Nintendo's Switch console.

The top seller was Madden NFL 20, which is currently the third-best-selling game of 2019 (Mortal Kombat 11 and Kingdom Hearts III are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively). The long-running sports title scored its seventh consecutive year atop the best sellers list in August.

Nintendo continued its dominance on the software charts, securing five of the top 10 best seller slots on the list last month. Astral Chain, the company's only new title to launch last month, landed in the No. 10 spot.

Meanwhile, on the hardware side, overall spending fell 22 percent year-over-year to $167 million. Switch is the only platform that saw a sales gain in August (the console has also seen an increase in sales year-to-date in 2019). Given the late stages of the current console generation (Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both launched in 2013) and the relative youth of the Switch (debuted in 2017), the downward trend of overall hardware spending isn't wholly surprising.