Nintendo launched flagship Wii title Super Smash Bros. Brawl to critical acclaim last month, and NPD sales figures released today prove that success was matched by retail performance. The game sold a staggering 2.7 million units in March, being picked up by 31% of all Wii owners in the United States.
Nintendo performed well on the hardware side as well, with Wii and Nintendo DS taking the top two sales slots by considerable margins.
All in all, the total video game hardware and software market was up an impressive 57 percent in March year over year, to $1.7 billion.
Said NPD analyst Anita Frazier, "You'd never know that the U.S. economy was under distress by looking at the video games industry sales figures. Year-to-date growth is a rock-solid 27% through March 2008."
Nintendo was credited for having a significant impact on growth. Added Frazier, "Across hardware, software, and accessories, the Wii contributed the most to total industry sales, representing 31% of total industry dollars for the month."
Hardware sales grew 46 percent year over year to $551.3 million. With Wii and DS in the lead, PSP followed, and Xbox 360 slightly edged out PS3 to return to its position ahead of its main competitor.
The full charts are as follows:
Wii - 721K (from 587.6K)
Nintendo DS - 698K (from 587.6K)
PSP - 297K (from 243.1K)
Xbox 360 - 262K (from 254.6K)
PlayStation 3 - 257K (from 280.8K)
PlayStation 2 - 216K (from 351.8K)
"All platforms, aside from the PS2, showed significant increases when compared with March 2007," said Frazier. "The industry realized great growth last year and so far this year, that momentum is carrying through."
Frazier added that Brawl contributed to record success for Wii last month. "Super Smash Brothers Brawl along with a greater supply of inventory helped the Wii to capture the highest single month unit sales of any platform outside the holiday timeframe," she said.
March software sales saw a 63 percent year over year increase to $945.6 million, driven not only by the success of Brawl but by strong sales across the board.
The full top ten is as follows:
1. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii; Nintendo EAD Tokyo, Nintendo) - 2.7M
2. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (Xbox 360; Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft) - 752.3K
3. Army of Two (Xbox 360; EA Montreal, Electronic Arts) - 606.1K
4. Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii; Nintendo, Nintendo) - 409.8K
5. God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP; SCE Santa Monica, SCEA) - 340.5K
6. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP; Square Enix, Square Enix) - 301.6K
7. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii; Neversoft/Vicarious Visions, Activision) - 264.1K
8. Major League Baseball 2K8 (Xbox 360; Kush Games, 2K Sports) - 237.1K
9. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360; Infinity Ward, Activision) - 237K
10. Army of Two (PS3; EA Montreal, Electronic Arts) - 224.9K
Said Frazier on the March increases, "The amazing year-over-year increase in software sales isn't just explained by a few top games - as compared to last March, twice as many SKU's achieved sales in excess of 100K units this month."
The Spin: Nintendo
As usual, representatives of major console manufacturers weighed in on today's announcements, each claiming great success.
Nintendo claimed it "again defined industry momentum." Said sales & marketing executive vice president Cammie Dunaway, "Nintendo systems represented 58 percent of all video game hardware sold in March in the United States. We expect our momentum to continue with big upcoming game launches like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit."
The company's release also noted that the Nintendo DS has now sold more than 19 million units in the United States alone since it launched in November 2004.
The Spin: Microsoft
Microsoft chimed in as well, claiming gamers are making "the ultimate vote for Xbox 360 as the console of choice by investing $9.4 billion to date this lifecycle in the Xbox 360 experience, far outpacing that of other game consoles."
The manufacturer also continues to point to what it calls "the trickledown effect of Xbox 360 console shortages."
It also claimed that March NPD data shows a new U.S. Xbox 360 software attach rate of 7.5, a record for any game console - noting that in Europe, Xbox 360 has the highest software attach rate of any game console with more than 7.0 games sold per console (PS3: 3.8; Wii: 3.5) after 27 months on the market.
The Spin: Sony
Reacting to the results, SCEA's president Jack Tretton commented: "Our sales momentum continues to defy what is traditionally a sluggish sales month. PS3 continued the strong momentum with a year-over-year sales growth of over 98%."
He continued by claiming: "It is proof that, in these economically challenging times, consumers recognize the long-term value of our platforms and the tremendous heritage of our brand in delivering the best entertainment experience."
Another notable statistic in Sony's post-NPD release - there are over than 3.7 million registered PlayStation Network accounts and more than 67 million pieces of content have been downloaded from PlayStation Store to date.