U.S. Video-Game Sales Growth Slows In February

The Nintendo Wii and the company's portable console, the DS, continued buck the trend in terms of unit sales.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

March 20, 2009

3 Min Read

U.S. sales of video games, consoles, and accessories slowed in February, market research figures showed.

The industry posted a 10% revenue increase over the same month a year ago to $1.47 billion, the NPD Group said. In January, sales at U.S. retailers rose 13% from a year ago to $1.33 billion.

Nevertheless, the industry as a whole remained strong.

"The U.S. video-games industry continues to post strong year-over-year comps despite the tough economy," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in an e-mail sent to media late Thursday. "Unit sales increased even more than dollar sales did, reflecting a slightly lower average retail price for all categories as compared to last year."

Sales of consoles rose 11% to $532.7 million. The Nintendo Wii and the company's portable console, the DS, continued to lead the market in February in terms of unit sales at 753,000 and 588,000 units, respectively.

While unit sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 were considerably less, both sold relatively well.

"The Xbox 360 realized its biggest non-holiday sales month, save for September 2007, when the Halo 3 [video-game] release brought in a large group of new owners," Frazier said. "Compared to last month [January], the PS3 realized the greatest month-over-month unit sales increase of all platforms." On the software side, U.S. video-game fans took advantage of lower prices and bought nearly 20 million games in February, a 14% rise from a year ago. The average retail price for games fell 4% from last year, NPD said.

The latest version of the longtime video-game franchise Street Fighter was second in sales for the month, behind the Wii Fit with Balance Board. Capcom USA sold 446,000 units for the Xbox 360 and 403,000 units for the PS3. Nintendo sold 644,000 units of Wii Fit, which only runs on the Wii console. NPD rates sales by individual platforms.

"A long-established video game franchise, the Street Fighter property continues to generate impressive sales results," Frazier said. "The great performance of the new title, Street Fighter IV, on both the PS3 and Xbox 360, is a testament to the power of carefully cultivating evergreen properties."

NPD expects March sales of video games to remain strong, driven by a number of new titles, such as "Pokemon Platinum," "GTA: Chinatown Wars," "Halo Wars," two Major League Baseball titles, and "Resident Evil 5."

"The sheer quantity of great content coming to market early in the year should keep industry sales humming throughout 2009," Frazier said.

As of the end of February, overall sales for the video-game industry were up 11% from the same period last year to $2.81 billion, according to NPD.

In a separate report, communications market researcher TMNG said it expects annual global sales of all video games, including those sold for mobile devices, such as the Apple iPhone, as well as consoles, to reach $40 billion by 2012.

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