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Video Game Industry Sees Soaring Sales

Video game software sales were up 45% in the first five months of the year, while video game hardware sales were up 17%, says The NPD Group.

The video game industry has generated $6.6 billion in sales so far and is on pace to hit $21 billion to $23 billion for the year, a market research firm said.

Revenue this year already has surpassed sales for all of 1997, The NPD Group said Thursday in releasing May figures for sales at U.S. retail stores.

For the fourth consecutive month, Nintendo captured the top two slots in terms of hardware unit sales. The console maker sold more than 675,000 Wiis and almost 453,000 Nintendo DS portables. Sony's PlayStation 3 was third, followed by Microsoft's Xbox 360, fourth; and the PlayStation Portable.

The video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" became the top-selling title of the year at stores with total sales so far of 4.2 million units. The success of the game, however, hasn't translated into big hardware sales for either Sony or Microsoft. "But there may yet to be a lift in June due to gift-giving for Father's Day and graduations," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in an e-mailed statement.

"GTA IV," which game maker Take-Two Interactive Software released April 29, had the hottest debut in the history of video games. Take-Two reported selling 6 million units worldwide in the first week.

Among the other popular titles, NPD singled out "Guitar Hero III", which has sold 2.5 million units, compared with 1.3 million for rival "Rock Band." Both games were among the top 10 titles for the year so far. "A lot of folks are interested in the battle of the bands," Frazier said.

Overall, video game software sales were up 41% from May 2007, and 45% in the first five months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago. Video game hardware sales were up 34% for May, and 17% from January through May.

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