Following LulzSec's ongoing campaign against the games industry, a study by the NDP Group has revealed that game sales in the U.S. have hit their lowest point in five years, but interestingly the recent slew of cyber attacks has not been listed as a key reason for the sales lull.
The NDP's findings
In a study released yesterday, the NDP group discovered that physical games sales for May 2011 had hit their lowest point since October 2006.
The study revealed that sales of boxed video game sales in the U.S. had declined 14 per cent in May 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.
Specifically, the report showed that compared to 2006's figures software sales were down by 19 per cent, hardware by five per cent and accessories by six per cent.
LulzSec and other hacks
Some of the most high-profile hacks inflicted on the games industry have come from the hacking collective LulzSec.
While recently gaining infamy for a successful hack on the U.S. Senate's website, LulzSec first caught the public eye for its cyber attacks on tech giant Sony.
LulzSec first targeted Sony just as the company was coming out of its previous PSN cyber-attack troubles.
The group originally targeted Sony's pictures entertainment website citing the company network's continuing weakness and mishandling of the PSN outage as its motivation for the cyber-attack. It went on to later hit Sony's BMG music department for the same reason.
Most recently LulzSec has also claimed responsibility for a successful cyber attack on Bethesda Softworks. The attack reportedly targeted the company's servers and was carried out two months ago. LulzSec claimed that it had managed to take over 200,000 Bethesda customers usernames and passwords as a result of the hack.
As well as LulzSec's attacks numerous other games companies have reported similar cyber attacks. Attacks on the websites of Nintendo, Epic, Codemasters and Square Enix have all been confirmed by the companies. In each case the hackers have been reported as stealing users personal information including, phone numbers, emails, usernames and passwords.
The NDP's conclusions
Despite the numerous hacks on several of the industries big-name developers -- combined with the memory of Sony's PlayStation Network outage nightmare -- the NDP report did not cite the recent slew of successful cyber attacks as the key reason for the lull in game sales.
In its report NDP instead highlighted the key reason for the drop in sales as being the lack of strong releases in May:
"Keeping in mind that these sales figures represent just the new physical portion of the market for video game hardware, software, and accessories and not the growing portion of the industry that is comprised of digital format content distribution, May 2011 was the lowest month of sales for the industry since October 2006... A light slate of new releases is at the heart of this month's performance."
The report pointed out how this year's May only saw 42 new software games released compared to last year's which saw 58. NDP's report also indicated that the month's strong downloadable content showing could be another possible reason for the lull in game sales:
"Keep in mind that purchases of content are increasingly occurring in digital format, and May saw a notable digital release in the second map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops which was titled Escalation. Undoubtedly, this shifted some dollars that might have been spent on new physical content at retail".