And then the bad times came to ... the video game market.

According to a report released today by the national market researcher NPD Group, sales of video games sank 31% in June to $1.17 billion -- the sector's fourth consecutive month of declines, and its largest monthly decline since September 2000.

Shares of GameStop ( GME) dropped 3% to $21.55 in morning trading, Microsoft ( MSFT)declined 1% to $24.21 and Sony ( SNE) slipped 2% to $24.32.

All platforms suffered a drop-off compared to June 2008, as gaming hardware tanked 38% to $382.62 million. Microsoft's Xbox 360, however, actually managed to post an increase on a month-to-month basis, selling 240,600 units.

While these companies have been able to avoid price cuts amid the recession, banking on product demand, they may be forced to consider slashing sticker prices before the end of the year.

One thing is certain, however: the declining sales cannot be attributed to waning interest in the sector. NPD says more than 4 million new players entered the gaming market since last year.

Most likely the drop in sales is due to consumers waiting to spend until new products are released or prices come down.

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