April Game Sales See Big Successes for Nintendo and Sony

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Maybe the video game industry isn’t as recession-proof as everyone thought: market research firm NPD has released its sales figures for 2009, and finds that U.S. sales of video games dropped 17 percent in April 2009 compared to the same month in 2008. Total revenue for the month was $1.03 billion across the industry—$510.7 million of that being games, with the rest being hardware and accessories.—and the numbers mark the second steep month of decline in a row.

As usual, the Nintendo Wii console was the top-selling game system, moving 340,000 units during the month; however, that figure is more than 50 percent lower than the Wii’s sales a year ago. Microsoft Xbox 360 came in second place with 175,000 units sold, and the ever-aging PlayStation 2 took third place with 172,000 units sold, fueled by Sony’s decision to drop the console’s price to $99—the PS2’s sales in April were almost double what they were a year ago. Sony’s PlayStation 3 took fourth place, moving 116,000 units.

On the portable game front, Nintendo seems to have a hit on its hands with the upgraded NIntendo DSi, which launched in the United States in early April. Although NPD doesn’t break down sales between the older DS and the new DSi, the company managed to move 1.04 million DS/DSi units; in dollar figures, the Nintendo DS platform accounted for almost a third of all U.S. video gaming hardware sales for the month.

Video game sales figures for April 2009 might not look great in comparison to April 2008, but it’s only fair to point out that April 2008 was a bang-up month for the industry, seeing the releases of big titles like Grand Theft Auto IV,Mario Kart Wii, and Gran Turismo 5.. “This year’s performance still represents the second-best performance for the industry in the month of April, besting April 2007, which is the previous second-place holder, by 26 percent,” said NPD Analyst Anita Frazier, in a statement.

Update: Nintendo has published some it its own figures for April hardware sales. According to the company, the Nintendo DSi sold over 827,000 units during April, with another 215,000 Nintendo DS Lites going into consumers’ hands during the month. The breakdown is good news for Nintendo’s bottom line: the newer, more-expensive DSi outsold its established, cheaper predecessor by more than four to one. That something Sony probably wishes had happened with the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 2.

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