Lazard Capital Markets' game analyst Colin Sebastian has weighed in on his predictions for September's NPD North American video game sales numbers, suggesting a 30% boost in game sales over September 2006, thanks to more than $300 million in sales for Halo 3.
According to Sebastian's analyst statement: "We estimate that software sales increased 30% in September, despite a tough year-over-year comparison (+28%), largely driven by strong initial sales of Halo 3... specifically, Microsoft recently announced that retail sales of Halo 3 through early October surpassed $300M, the majority of which we believe were in North America."
Sebastian continued: "We also expect higher Xbox 360 hardware sales in September boosted by price cuts and Halo 3 launch. In addition, demand for Nintendo's Wii hardware remains strong but sales are likely to reflect ongoing supply constraints -- a trend likely to persist through the holiday period. For Sony's PS3, we do not anticipate a meaningful uptick in unit sales without a hardware price discount (or new SKU) or until the seasonal holiday sales ramp."
The analyst added, regarding retailer upsides for the holiday season: "Positive industry trends continue to benefit specialty retailer GameStop, in our opinion, with Halo 3 driving incremental store traffic and positive sales momentum ahead of the key holiday selling season."
Finally, Lazard's game analyst commented specifically on some major game companies whose stock he covers, which Gamasutra will reprint below in full:
"Activision (ATVI/Buy): We expect approximately 100% growth in September sell-through on an easy comparison (-32%) and ongoing solid catalog sales of Guitar Hero titles. We note that Activision's release lineup improves significantly in October and November with Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (Oct. 16), Guitar Hero 3 (Oct. 28), and Call of Duty 4 (Nov. 5).
Electronic Arts (ERTS/Buy): We expect sell-through to be roughly flat from last year with top titles Madden NFL 08, Tiger Woods PGA and Skate. We note that monthly sales were impacted by the earlier release of Madden in August this year, the later release of NBA Live (in October vs. September last year), as well as lower PS2 sales and ASPs on sports titles. We believe these were largely offset by the earlier release of Tiger Woods (August vs. October) and new releases Skate and Medal of Honor: Airborne.
THQ (THQI/Buy): We expect THQ sell-through to be down 40% from last year on a tough year-over-year comparison from sales of Saints Row in September 2006, as well as ongoing slow sales in North America of Stuntman: Ignition and Juiced 2. As discussed in our September 5 note ('Stuntman a little slow off the blocks'), we do not expect meaningful reorders of the title through the end of the year with sales falling short of our original expectations."