In May of last year, U.S. video gamers spent more on games, hardware and accessories than this May, suggesting this year’s release schedule couldn’t compete with Take Two Interactive’s “Grand Theft Auto IV” last spring, The Associated Press reported.
Spending fell 23 percent from last May to $863 million, according to the NPD Group. They announced it was the first monthly tally below $1 billion since August 2007 and the third month in a row of declines year-over-year.
THQ Inc.’s “UFC 2009 Undisputed” was the best-selling title this May with 679,600 units on Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360, and 334,400 on Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, for a total of just over 1 million.
However, “GTA IV” sold 1.3 million units last May on both platforms.
The second top-selling game was Nintendo’s “Wii Fit,” which sold 352,800 units this May but was down from 687,700 a year ago.
NPD said games for the Wii took five of the month’s top 10 titles””in which all 10 sold a combined 2.6 million units, compared with 3.7 million last year.
NPD analyst Anita Frazier said the video games industry continues to struggle with difficult comparisons to last year.
“Every sales category declined from a year ago except for portable hardware, bolstered by new versions of the Nintendo DS, including the DSi and the Lite,” Frazier said.
This year has seen a 30 percent plunge in hardware sales to $303 million, while software sales were down 17 percent to $449 million. Accessories sales also dropped 25 percent to $112 million.
But Nintendo sold 633,500 DS portable consoles and 289,500 Wii systems in May, while Sony sold 131,000 PlayStation 3 systems, 117,000 PlayStation 2 consoles and 100,400 PSP portable devices. Microsoft sold 175,000 Xbox 360 units.
The unusual strength of last year’s “GTA IV” and “Wii Fit” skewed what is usually an anemic time of year, according to Cowen & Co. games analyst Doug Creutz.
But Creutz doesn’t believe the slow sales will really change the underlying strength of the video game segment, since good games can still sell a lot of units.
“I think that the negative year-over-year trends are far more due to the release schedule and less due to the economy,” he said.
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