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NPD: U.S. Game Sales Drop 13% In February

NPD: U.S. Game Sales Drop 13% In February

March 13, 2006 | By David Jenkins

March 13, 2006 | By David Jenkins
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More: Console/PC

Market research firm NPD Group has reported another significant drop in video game sales in U.S., for the month of February, with software sales down by a large 13 percent on the same month in 2005, even greater than previously predicted by Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter.

Software game sales dropped to $340 million with a year-to-date figure down by 9 percent to $700 million. Sales of video game accessories fell by 15 percent for the month to $90 million, and was overall down by 5 percent compared to the year before, to $200 million for the year-to-date.

Hardware sales for the month were actually up by 22 percent to $200 though, driven not by the then still difficult to find Xbox 360, but by portable console sales of the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. "Handheld platforms were the big story last year, and so far this year, that segment of the industry has continued to grow significantly since last year," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

Overall total sales for the month, including software, accessories, and hardware, were down 5 percent on last February to more than $635 million, with year-to-date figures actually up by 2 percent to $1.34 billion, but this does not mask the fact that the software sellthrough totals were particularly disappointing.

The now familiar reasons for the overall decline include the suggestion that many consumers are waiting for the release of the PlayStation 3 and/or Revolution, rather than continuing to spend money on the current generation of consoles, and the general lack of AAA titles such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Halo 2.

"We're in a transition period, so a lot of dollars are being saved for new video game consoles. And there are more choices vying for consumer dollars, and more consumers holding on to their money in anticipation of new consoles. Although a lot of people are disappointed - especially publishers whose sales aren't living up to expectations - I wouldn't say this is doom or gloom. It's going to be an interesting number of months until everything settles down," Frazier said.

According to a Wedbush Morgan analyst report, the top three U.S. retail titles for February in each major SKU are as follows:

PlayStation 2:
1. Fight Night Round 3 - Electronic Arts
2. Guitar Hero Bundle - Red Octane
3. Madden NFL 2006 - Electronic Arts

1. Fight Night Round 3 - Electronic Arts
2. MVP 06 NCAA Baseball - Electronic Arts
3. Arena Football - Electronic Arts

Xbox 360
1. Fight Night Round 3 - Electronic Arts
2. Call Of Duty 2 - Activision
3. Full Auto - Sega

1. Super Mario Strikes - Nintendo
2. Sonic Riders - Sega
3. Mario Party 7 - Nintendo

1. GTA: Liberty City Stories - Take-Two Interactive (PSP)
2. Animal Crossing: Wild World - Nintendo (DS)
3. Mario Kart DS - Nintendo (DS)

[UPDATE: 03/13/06 4.30pm PST - added top titles for each system for February.]

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