April Video Game Sales Rise 20 Pct

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New data from market research firm NPD shows that sales of video game hardware and software were up 20 percent in April 2007 compared to the same month a year ago, and the surge was led by strong sales of Nintendo’s Wii gaming console and new Pokemon titles for Nintendo’s DS handheld gaming system.

According to the NPD sales figures, the Nintendo Wii remained the top-selling game console for the fourth month in a row, moving some 360,000 additional units during the month. Nintendo also scored sales victories with Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl for the Nintendo DS, selling more than 1.7 million copies and helping fuel sales of 471,000 Nintendo DS units during the month.

“Nothing is more valuable in the entertainment world than an evergreen franchise,” said Nintendo America’s president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime, in a statement. “These new Pokemon titles have cemented their place alongside the most enduring intellectual properties of the book, music and, movie industries. And that appeal will expand even further with the introduction of Pokemon Battle Revolution to our Wii home console next month.”

During April, Microsoft managed to sell 174,000 Xbox 360 systems, which represents a decline of 13 percent from the previous month—and that’s even accounting for the introduction of the higher-capacity Xbox 360 Elite. NPD estimates Microsoft has sold a total of about 9.2 million Xbox 360s since the systems’ introduction in November of 2005.

NPD has Sony selling 82,000 PlayStation 3 consoles during the month, which represents a drop of 37 percent compared to sales figures from March. Industry speculation says Sony needs to come up with a must-have gaming title for the PS3 if it wants to spur sales of its powerful (but expensive) Blu-ray equipped gaming console.

Among video game titles, Activision’s Guitar Hero II sold almost 340,000 copies between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2, Super Paper Mario for the Wii sold 352,000 copies, and Wii Play managed 249,000 copies. Activision’s movie tie-in game Spider-Man 3 moved 222,000 copies between the Xbox 360 and PS2.