NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There's a rumor going around that nobody's buying video games anymore. The truth is they're just not buying the new ones as much these days.
Sales of new video game hardware, software and accessories fell 24%, to $848 million, in September from $1.1 billion the same time a year earlier, according to NPD Group. That's 10 straight months of declines despite releases including Electronic Arts' (EA) Madden NFL '13 and Battlefield 3 and 2K Games' (TTWO) Borderlands 2.
Sales of games alone, including computer games, fell 14%, to $547.3 million. Nobody's buying hardware such as Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 or Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3, which saw sales fall a whopping 39% last month. The gaming world is eagerly awaiting the release of Nintendo's Wii U console in November, but even that may not be enough to bring video games back to their pre-recession, pre-iPhone heights.
Even online gaming has taken a hit. Facebook (FB) blamed its slow revenue growth on users not playing as many games from FarmVille maker Zynga (ZNGA) as they used to. That downturn led Zynga to do away with 13 of its games and lay off 5% of its staff earlier this week.Not that a small but well-funded niche of gamers cares. On full display at the Retro Gaming Expo in Portland, Ore., last month, the retro gaming community pores through bins of old Atari, Colecovision, Nintendo and Sega games searching for hidden gems and old childhood favorites. It pays more now for hard-to-find games such as War of the Gems or X-Men: Children of the Atom than it did when they were released. It also still plugs away at vintage arcade machines such as Bally Midway's half video game/half pinball machine Baby Pac-Man or Atari's aging movie tie-in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This mish-mash of late baby boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y still loves these games and, thanks to their newfound adult income, still shells out to get their own copies. With help from the folks at Denver-based vintage game dealership J.J. Games and its Price Charting blog, we've come up with 10 games still raking in the cash years after their initial release. Time will tell if old copies of Guitar Hero or Just Dance will do the same: 10. Atlantis II
Format: Atari 2600
Highest price ever paid: $5,000
It's not that hard to get a functioning Atari 2600 or any of the consoles or adapters that played its games. It's far more difficult to get your hands on this game, which was never sold commercially -- it was offered only as a prize to players who maxed out the high score on the original Atlantis shortly after its release in 1982. Developer Imagic asked for players to send in photos of their high scores, but eventually grew tired of seeing America's youth blow through their prized product. They sent out Atlantis II to the kids with the best scores and defied them to do the same with this version, which had faster enemies. To save money, Imagic sent out game cartridges with the exact same casing and labels as the original. The only way to tell the difference is to turn on the game, look at the score font and clock the bad guys' speed. As one might imagine, this makes buying and selling the game a bit of a hassle, but given the cost involved, it's worth the legwork.
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