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Video Game Industry Sees Bump in March

April 17, 2010

U.S. retail sales of video game software, hardware and accessories saw a rise in sales in March after a rocky 2009 followed by two months of double digit declines.

Market researcher NPD group said Thursday that video game sales rose 6 percent from the same month a year earlier, to $1.52 billion.  Nintendo’s gaming systems, new “Pokemon” games and Sony Corp.’s “God of War III” helped to boosts strong sales.

Software sales rose to $875.3 million, 10 percent, which is above what most analysts were expecting.  In addition to “God of War,” which sold more than a million copies, two “Pokemon” games from Nintendo and “Final Fantasy XIII” from Square Enix were also top sellers. “Battlefield: Bad Company 2″ from Electronic Arts Inc. was among the month’s strongest-selling games as well.

Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich said industry expectations were for software sales growth of about 3 percent. He also said the higher-than-expected March figures were driven by Nintendo, whose games outsold analysts expectations.

Hardware sales dropped $440.5 million because game consoles prices are lower than they were at this time last year. Nintendo’s Wii system sold 557,500 units, and its portable DS, 700,800. The company easily surpassed rival console makers again, with Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 selling 338,400 units and Sony’s PlayStation 3 selling 313,900.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s President, said supply constraints that had squeezed Wii sales in the last couple months are easing up.

The video game accessories numbers rose to $206.8 million, which is up 11 percent from the year prior.

Year-to-date video game sales were down 7 percent at the end of March. This is compared to the same three-month period last year.

Activision Blizzard Inc. raised its revenue earnings forecast for the first quarter on Thursday, citing strong global demand for its top games.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier told the Associated Press that the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ by Activision is now the second-best selling game of all time in the U.S. after Nintendo’s “Wii Play,” which sold well due to being packaged with a ii controller at no extra cost.

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