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2/13/2009
03:24 PM
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U.S. Video-Game Market Remains Strong In Tough Economy

Sales of the Nintendo Wii outpaced the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation more than 2-to-1.

U.S. video-game sales showed significant growth in January despite the down economy, with Nintendo shipping twice as many consoles as its two rivals Microsoft and Sony, the latest market figures show.

Overall sales reached $1.33 billion in the first month of the year, a 13% increase over the $1.18 billion in January 2008, the NPD Group said in its monthly report released late Thursday. By category, console sales rose by 17%, games 13%, software 10%, and accessories 11%.

"Even in these tough economic times, the fact that total sales were able to realize a 13% increase in revenue, compared to January 2007, speaks to the continued strength of video games as one of the leading entertainment industries in the U.S.," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in an e-mailed statement.

Sales of the Nintendo Wii outpaced the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation more than 2-to-1. U.S. retailers sold 679,200 Wiis, compared with 309,000 Xbox 360s and 304,400 PlayStations, which included 203,200 units of the current-generation PlayStation 3. The remaining sales were of the older PlayStation 2.

In mobile gaming, Nintendo led again by a wide margin, with 510,800 units of the DS sold in January versus 172,300 units of Sony's PlayStation Portable, or PSP.

The top three video games in the month in terms of units sold were for the Wii: the Wii Fit, Wii Play w/Remote, and Mario Kart w/Wheel, respectively. Nine of the top 10 games were for the Wii or Xbox 360 platform, with the remainder for Nintendo's DS portable platform.

NPD's latest numbers are based on retail sales in the United States, excluding online sales. Earlier this month, NPD, in conjunction with two other tracking firms, reported that overall video-game unit sales across the world's largest market rose 11% in 2008, despite a decline in Japan. The United States and the United Kingdom saw increases of 15% and 26%, respectively, from 2007.

The drop in sales in Japan contributed to a profit warning issued last week by Nintendo, maker of the Wii console. The Japanese company reported that the profits for 2008 would be 33% less than expected.

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