The video-game industry’s stay in purgatory has come to an end, at least for a bit.
On Thursday, the NPD Group, which tracks game sales in U.S. stores, reported that total video-game sales, including hardware, software and accessories, had risen to $1.08 billion in September, 27 percent higher than the same period the year before.
The increase was almost entirely the result of a 52 percent increase in software sales for consoles and portable game devices, to $754 million.
The reason? Grand Theft Auto V, which has shattered sales records since it was released in September.
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To find a month when the industry performed better, you need to go back nearly half a decade. The last time total game and software sales rose more than they did in September was July and June 2008, according to Liam Callahan, an analyst at NPD.
Around that time, the industry was riding high on sales of the last version of Grand Theft Auto, along with Nintendo’s Wii and Guitar Hero, both of which later fizzled. That was also a time before some of the disruptive forces in the games business, like smartphones and free Facebook games, began to gather steam (the iPad hadn’t been released yet).
The year-over-year sales declines that have characterized the retail-games business for most of the past several years reflected the growing appeal of these new forms of games, the sales of which are not as easily tracked by NPD and others.