Black Friday is a clarion call to shoppers the world over. Whatever you’ve been saving up for, waiting for a sale on or convincing yourself you just don’t need, retailers would like you to buy it now. The video game industry needs your conspicuous consumption as badly as anyone.
According to the NPD group, video game sales for October 2012 were down 25 percent. That’s a CEO-stressing 11th straight month of industry decline. GameStop felt the pain, suffering a $624 million loss in the third quarter of 2012. In a recent earnings call, executives blamed a lengthy console cycle and third-quarter software that didn’t compare favorably to 2011.
October 2011 featured game of the year contender Batman: Arkham City and and military shooter heavyweight Battlefield 3. This October’s biggest seller was NBA 2K13. Long-awaited titles Resident Evil 6 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter played to disappointing reviews. End-of-the-month release Assassins Creed III will probably do well once we have solid numbers. November offers the industry some good chances to play catch up. Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Halo 4 will feed the “core gamer.”
Nintendo’s Wii U will find its way under millions of Christmas trees. It is especially important because of its family appeal. Mario ensured a bumper crop of gamers in the ’80s and hasn’t lost his touch. Nintendo has promised more third-party support and more titles for mature gamers. Also, everyone loves new toys. The Wii U officially starts the clock on the next round of consoles. One possible reason for lackluster sales is the expectation that both Sony and Microsoft will announce new hardware sometime in 2013. We all hate paying full price for old stuff and then seeing the new stuff announced.
Black Friday is our ready-made excuse to make the impulse purchases we’ve avoided all year. The video game industry and the retailers it supports sincerely hope we take advantage.