EA, GameStop rally following favorable NPD data

|About: GameStop Corp. (GME)|By:, SA News Editor

NPD estimates U.S. physical retail video game sales rose 21% Y/Y, reversing July's 19% decline as new titles stoked demand ahead of this fall's console refreshes. Games launched in August accounted for over half of all sales, and their high price tags resulted in ASPs rising 25%.

GameStop (GME +5%) investors are pleased with the numbers. So are Electronic Arts (EA +2.7%), and Take-Two (TTWO +3%) investors; while still important, NPD's figures matter a little less than they used to for game developers, thanks to a shift towards digital revenue streams.

Not surprisingly, hardware sales fell 40% Y/Y (worse than July's 34% drop), as gamers wait for the chance to buy a PS4 or Xbox One. Sales of accessories, including Skylanders (ATVI +0.6%) toys, rose 7% after falling 3% in July. Nintendo's (NTDOY.PK) 3DS was the best-selling console; 6.47M units of the handheld console have been sold in the U.S. in 2013.

Though its first-week sales disappointed, EA's Madden NFL 25 was the month's best-selling title. Take-Two's anticipated Grand Theft Auto V launches on Tuesday.

Analysts expect GTA V to pull in $1B+ in sales in Take-Two's FY14 (ends March '14). Pac Crest downgraded Take-Two earlier this week, arguing (among other things) the company has an "empty pipeline" and that there's "potential for changes" in Take-Two's relationship with GTA franchise developer Rockstar Games.