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NPD: Video game sales boosted by content purchases

Call of Duty: Black Ops

New figures from market research firm NPD finds U.S. video game sales during the first quarter of 2011 increased a bit compared to the first quarter of 2010, totaling up to some $5.9 billion. The figure represents a 1.5 percent increase over the previous year. However, the most significant portion of that figure might be the amount spend on video game content: that jumped to $1.85 billion, or over 30 percent of consumers’ total video game spending for the quarter.

“While the new physical retail channel still generates the majority of industry sales, our expanded research coverage allows us to assess the total consumer spend across the growing number of ways to acquire and experience gaming, including mobile apps and downloadable content,” said NPD group analyst Anita Frazier, in a statement.

The industry’s revenue stream from outside physical sales channels includes downloadable games, social network games, mobile games, and downloadable content—think virtual guns or add-on content—as well as rentals, used games, and subscriptions.

NPD’s figures cover the first quarter of 2011, and come just as industry figures are forecasting video game sales totals for the second quarter of 2011 will be down significantly from the same period in 2011, in part owing to a seasonal slump in sales but also due to a lack of blockbuster titles. In 2010, solid sellers like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption helped pump up sales figures. However, the apparently health of the video game content market might provide a way for the industry to make up the sales deficit over time: fewer consumers might be willing to spend the money on a full game title, but many seem willing to make small transactions for add-ons and or other content.