NPD: Video game sales slumped 16 pct in March

Nintendo 3DS

Market analysis firm NPD has released its video game industry sales figures for the month of March 2011, and the news is both good and bad for the industry. On the one hand, revenue for hardware sales was up compared to last year, due in part to the debut of the Nintendo 3DS handheld system. On the other hand, software sales (i.e. games) took a steep decline compared to last year—which NPD blamed on a dearth of top-drawer titles. Combining both hardware and software, the video game industry saw its U.S. sales figures drop 4 percent compared to a year ago, from $1.58 billion to $1.53 billion.

For the month, game console sales totaled from $494.5 million, which is an overall gain of 12 percent compared to March of 2010. Accessories—things like additional controllers and peripherals—also did well, jumping 13 percent compared to March of 2010 to a total of $241.3 million. Although some of those accessory sales were surely things like cases for the Nintendo 3DS, the figures would also include things like the Kinect and Move motion sensor systems for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, respectively.

Sales of physical game titles, however, were down, from $875.7 million in March of 2010 to $735.4 million this year. NPD blames the decline on a lack of high-profile titles released during the month, but it’s also worth noting that NPD does not track download game sales, so the figure could be eroded by titles sold directly to consoles (particularly for casual games). Some industry watchers have speculated that some money that would normally have been spend for low-cost portable and console game titles has now shifted to iOS and Android devices, which also aren’t considered in NPD’s figures.

According to NPD, the top five software titles for the month were Pokemon White, Pokemon Black, Homefront, Dragon Age II, and Call of Duty: Black Ops.

How well did the Nintendo 3DS do? NPD no longer releases specific sales figures for consoles or game titles, but Nintendo of America president REggie Fils-Aime says the company sold some 400,000 units during its first week of availability.

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