NPD: Xbox 360 ruled a steadily declining video game empire in July

Microsoft must sometimes feel like its lead in the game market is a Pyrrhic victory. The Xbox 360 once again topped the NPD Group's hardware charts in July, claiming a near-majority 49 percent market share of consoles -- but the 203,000 units sold were a steep drop from the 257,000 units that traded hands in June, and a far cry from the glory days that would have given a victory more meaning. Nintendo and Sony haven't shared their own figures, although the analyst group notes that only Nintendo's 3DS and DSi had any kind of increase in the month. The industry as a whole was unmistakably feeling the combined effects of the pre-holiday doldrums and a console generation that's long in the tooth: hardware revenue was down 32 percent in the month to $150.7 million, while the games in question saw revenue dip 23 percent to $260.7 million. If you need a culprit, earlier reports for the second quarter had credited similar shifts to sales of physical game copies declining faster than digital sales could replace them. Hope remains in the usual fall spike; even so, the July figures suggest the big three platforms might be living on borrowed time.