US video game sales decline in January; ‘New Super Mario,’ ‘Mass Effect 2′ top games

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NPD: January video game sales down 13 percent

NEW YORK — U.S. video game retail sales dropped 13 percent in January, another down month for the industry after a difficult 2009.

In all, Americans spent nearly $1.2 billion on video game systems, software and accessories during the month, market researcher NPD Group said Thursday.

Software sales fell 12 percent from the same month a year earlier, to $597.9 million.

January does not tend to be a big month for video games, which sell heavily during the holidays, though it is when many people trade in the gift cards they got for Christmas.

The month’s best-selling title was Nintendo’s “New Super Mario Bros.,” followed by “Mass Effect 2″ from Electronic Arts Inc., which launched Jan. 26. Other games such as Activision Blizzard Inc.’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ and Nintendo’s “Wii Fit Plus” also did well.

January hardware sales tumbled 21 percent from a year earlier to $353.7 million. In December, hardware sales hit nearly $2.2 billion and were up from a year earlier.

NPD said Thursday the Wii kept its spot as the month’s best selling console with 465,800 units sold, followed by the handheld DS with 422,200.

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 was in third place with 332,800 units, tailed by Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 with 276,900.

Sales of accessories climbed 2 percent to $217 million.

Peter Dille, senior vice president at Sony, said there has been a lot of pent-up demand for the PlayStation 3 and he expects supplies to be tight “for another month or two.”

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime also pointed to supply constraints for the Wii, saying the company’s “biggest challenge on the Wii side continues to be meeting demand.”

Xbox spokesman David Dennis said the company was having no supply-demand issues.

After January’s decline, analysts expect big game launches to give a boost to software sales for the remainder of the quarter. Many of these titles, such as “BioShock 2,” ”Dante’s Inferno” and “God of War III” cater to hardcore gamers.

In a note to investors ahead of the NPD report, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter said he thinks “the hardcore gamer will carry 2010 to solid growth” when it comes to game software.

NPD’s report came the day after Activision reported better-than-expected results for its fourth quarter.

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