U.S. video game sales down 16 percent in August

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sales of video game equipment and software in the United States fell 16 percent in August to $908.7 million, research group NPD said on Thursday, the sixth consecutive monthly decline.

Hardware sales fell 25 percent from a year ago, while software sales slid 15 percent, NPD said. Sales of video game accessories rose 2 percent.

The industry has been in a slump as U.S.consumers continue to spend cautiously. But long-awaited console price cuts by Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp and new games are expected to boost sales in coming months.

Jesse Divnich, an analyst with industry research group Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, said August’s sales figures came in about as expected.

“Certainly the worst is behind us...the month of September does have a game for every demographic and that does create a perfect storm for sales, and we expect that momentum to continue for the holiday season.”

Industry sales in the United States are down 14 percent for the first eight months.

Nintendo’s Wii retained its spot as the top selling console in the United States, although sales fell 38 percent to 277,400 units.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was No. 2, followed by Sony’s PlayStation 3. The Xbox is the only console showing growth this year, with sales up close to 17 percent.

Sony slashed the price of the PS3 by $100 to $299 last month. Microsoft later lowered the price on its high-end Xbox 360 model console to $299.

Electronic Arts’ longtime football franchise, “Madden NFL 10,” with 1.9 million units sold, was the top-selling game in August.

Analysts expect “The Beatles: Rock Band,” which is distributed by Electronic Arts, and arrived in stores this week, could sell 2 million units in its first month.

Reporting by Gabriel Madway, Editing by Leslie Gevirtz