Talking ahead of the official release of NPD's March game hardware/software stats on Thursday, Lazard Capital analyst Colin Sebastian is estimating game sales up more than 35% on the previous year, thanks to a "solid" release schedule including Super Smash Bros and Army Of Two.
According to Sebastian's comments, made available to Gamasutra earlier today as part of an analyst note:
"Based on our retail and industry checks, we expect software growth to meet, and perhaps exceed, our original 35% estimate with the Easter/spring break shift boosting a solid release schedule, which included Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Nintendo), Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Ubisoft) and Army of Two (ERTS)."
Moving on, Sebastian looked into spring's potential game sales, suggesting notable upside and commenting: "We note that industry sales should get a further lift from upcoming April releases Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), GT-5: Prologue (Sony) and GTA IV (TTWO), continuing into May/June with Wii Fit, Pokemon (Nintendo) and Metal Gear Solid 4 (Konami)."
He added, regarding possibilities for the much-awaited Grand Theft Auto IV from Rockstar Games and Take-Two: "We expect 5 million units of GTA IV over the first two weeks post launch, with roughly a 60/40 unit split on the Xbox 360/PS3."
In addition, the analyst commented on game hardware possibilities, noting: "Expect stable hardware sales trends in March data. Our retail channel checks continue to indicate tight supplies of the Wii; however, we believe Nintendo is likely increasing production above the last confirmed monthly rate (1.8M units). We also expect both Microsoft and Sony to leverage the April 29 launch of GTA IV with more aggressive marketing campaigns."
Finally, Sebastian concluded: "Based on strong year-to-date software growth, we believe there is likely upside to our initial 10%-15% growth estimate for 2008, as the video game industry is largely withstanding the broader consumer slowdown."