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 BioShock ,  Tomb Raider  stave off larger declines in March

BioShock, Tomb Raider stave off larger declines in March

April 18, 2013 | By Kris Graft

NPD Group's monthly report of U.S. physical video game sales showed a double-digit decline in dollar sales for last month -- a drop that could've been much worse if it weren't for a couple high-profile titles.

Irrational Games' BioShock Infinite topped Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider on the sales chart, but both drove overall industry revenues to $992.5 million for the five-week retail month of March. That's a 10 percent decline from March 2012 (a little easier to stomach than February's 25 percent decline).

NPD's Liam Callahan said BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider's launches had "the highest first month sales for games in these franchises."

March's results show how the box-centric game publishers have been relying on fewer, bigger titles. Callahan added, "There were actually fewer new launches -- about 20 percent less new games -- than last March, but March 2013 launches generated close to 70 percent more dollar sales per SKU than last year."

3DS sales rise

For another month, video game hardware was the segment hit hardest, generating $221.6 million for the month, a 32 percent decline.

Portable consoles drove the dollar sales declines, but home consoles also slipped. Nintendo 3DS sales bucked that trend in March, however, with hardware sales that grew 9 percent compared to the prior year.

For a seven-and-a-half year old console with a successor on the horizon, Xbox 360 sales were relatively healthy at 261,000 units during the month. While Microsoft boasted about its top-selling console in a press statement, both Sony and Nintendo have kept quiet about the NPD figures for their flagship home consoles, PlayStation 3 and Wii U.

Top 10 Software Chart (SKUs combined)

(Note: SKUs are listed in descending order, with the first SKU listed being the one that sold the most units at retail.)

Nintendo cited NPD sales figures, stating that Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS, which came in at number six, sold 365,000 units at U.S. retail in March (the game was on shelves for about two weeks).

1. Bioshock Infinite (360, PS3, PC) - Take-Two
2. Tomb Raider 2013 (360, PS3) - Square Enix
3. Gears of War: Judgement (360) - Microsoft
4. God of War: Ascension (PS3) - Sony
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, PC, NWU) - Activision
6. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) - Nintendo - 365,000 physical
7. MLB 13: The Show (PS3, PSV) - Sony
8. NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, WII, NWU, PSP, PC) - Take-Two
9. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (360, PS3, NWU) - Activision
10. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (360, PS3) - Namco Bandai

Nintendo said Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon sold 415,000 units across physical and digital copies in the U.S. in March; Fire Emblem Awakening sold 64,000 in March (240,000 lifetime combined); and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity sold over 145,000 combined for the month.

By the Numbers

Percentage changes year-on-year

Video game hardware: $221.6 million (-32%)
Video game software (console, handheld): $554.8 million (-1%)
Video game software (console, handheld, PC): $ $602.4 million (2%)
Video game accessories: $216.1 million (flat)
Total video game industry sales: $992.5 million (-10%)

Estimated used game, rental and "other physical" sales: $190 million
Estimated digital sales: $670 million
Total estimated video game spend in the U.S.: "Just under" $1.9 billion

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