July 29, 2005

Game biz eyeing record year

By Georg Szalai

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Sales of U.S. console and
portable video game hardware, software and accessories rose 21%
year-over-year for the first half of 2005, putting the industry
on track for a record year, research firm NPD Group said.

The gaming sector saw overall sales hit more than $4.1
billion for the January-June period compared with $3.4 billion
in first-half 2004, driven by the fast-expanding portable
gaming market and software sales gains, NPD said Thursday.

The total game software market expanded 9.2% year-over-year
to $2.8 billion for the first half of the year, the firm said.
Sony's "Gran Turismo 4" was the best-selling title for the
period based on unit sales, followed by Nintendo's "Pokemon
Emerald" and Electronic Arts' "MVP Baseball 2005."

LucasArts' "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith"
for the PlayStation 2 ranked fourth -- its Xbox counterpart
came in 10th -- and Take-Two Interactive's controversial "Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas" rounded out the top five.

Driven by new portable gaming platforms like Sony Corp.'s
PSP, the gaming industry recorded an 11% increase in overall
unit sales for first-half 2005.

With the exception of the PC game market and the console
hardware category, all business segments tracked by NPD showed

PC game software sales decreased 10.5% to $405.4 million in
the first half, NPD said.

Console hardware sales fell 6% to about $594 million, while
console software revenue edged up 3%, and console accessories
gained 6%.

Portable game hardware, software and accessories saw dollar
sales jump 181%, 74% and 81%, respectively, NPD said.

"With this growth already realized for the year, the
industry is poised to reach its highest sales levels ever," NPD
Group entertainment industry analyst Anita Frazier said.

Despite Thursday's sales news from NPD, most video gaming
stocks finished the trading session lower. Shares of EA closed
down 0.7% at $58.45, and Take-Two's stock fell 1.7% to $24.63,
both on Nasdaq.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter