Gaming down in 2011

As we’ve often reported on TG, gaming isn’t exactly a stable business to be in, even when times are relatively good.

As you may recall, right after Atari had its biggest year way back when, gaming went in the toilet. Fast forward to modern time and the industry is still struggling, although it made a major comeback near the end of the year with Call of Duty. Still, the market came up somewhat short for the year.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, spending on all gaming content, meaning physical games, used games, rentals, subscriptions, downloads, social network games, etc. is down 8%, where spending on games “in the new physical channel” is down 8% to $17 billion, from 2010’s take of $18.6 billion.

Hardware sales are down 11%, retail sales of physical game content is down 8%. The Reporter also tells us that gaming hardware sales are down 28%, and accessory sales are down 28%, while total software sales are down 15%.

The company that did all this research, NPD Group, told the Reporter this isn’t too surprising “given that we are on the back end of the current console lifecycle, combined with the continued digital evolution of gaming.”

Call of Duty was of course the #1 selling game of the year, making a billion dollars in sixteen days, faster than James Cameron’s Avatar. As previously reported in the L.A.  Times, Activision bragged this put them in the same league as Star Wars, Harry Potter and the NFL, but we’ve seen bigger things take a hard tumble before. (Again, look back at Atari).

It’s a good bet that Call of Duty has helped things greatly, and it could be a good sign of things to come in gaming, but as we’ve seen before with the market always being unsteady, who can predict where anything’s going to  land?