Game Software Sales Increase, Thanks To Modern Warfare 3
December 11, 2011

Game Software Sales Increase, Thanks To Modern Warfare 3

Total retail sales of video game hardware, software, and accessories in the U.S. enjoyed a modest increase last month, thanks largely to high sales of the red-hot Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, various media outlets reported this weekend.

David Murphy of PCMag, citing statistics provided by market research firm NPD Group, said that industry sales increased four-tenths of a percent versus November 2010, to three billion dollars. However, he adds that a closer look at the numbers show "just how wonky the market can be."

"If one were to just focus on gaming software sold, the industry would be hanging up the balloons and tossing confetti," he said. "That's because sales of both console and portable games shot up 15 percent between November 2010 and 2011, growing from $1.45 billion to $1.67 billion."

The top seller was the aforementioned Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which managed to sell more than 6.5 million total copies in the US and the UK within the first 24 hours of its November 8 release, Murphy said. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC game's publisher, Activision, claimed that it earned $400 million in revenue during that span and called it, in Murphy's words, pretty much "the most successful opening day for just about anything in entertainment, ever."

NPD analyst Anita Frazier told the Associated Press (AP) that it was the best November ever for physical game sales, beating former record-holder 2008 for the honor. However, hardware sales -- which include both gaming systems and accessories -- decreased 9%, to $982.4 million, when compared to last November. According to the AP, the primary reason for the decrease was the launch of the Xbox 360 Kinect motion controller by Microsoft during the same month in 2010.

"The majority of the decline in dollar sales versus last November can be attributed to specialty controllers resulting from tough comparisons against last year when the Kinect launched," Frazier told USA Today's Mike Snider.

"While content sales grew substantially thanks to a great slate of new content, a decline in average retail price in all categories with the exception of portable hardware resulted in flat dollar sales even though unit sales grew for console hardware, as well as console, portable, and PC software," she added.

Joining Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in the top ten games for November were: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks); Battlefield 3 (Electronic Arts); Assassin's Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft); Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft); Madden NFL 12 (Electronic Arts); Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Sony); Saints Row: The Third (THQ); The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo); and Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros. Interactive). Both Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim surpassed the previous entries in their respective series in terms of sales, Snider added.


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