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NPD: New Retail Rev Down 4%,  Pokemon Black/White  Top Software In March

NPD: New Retail Rev Down 4%, Pokemon Black/White Top Software In March

April 14, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

The NPD Group has announced its tracking results for new U.S. retail video game sales in March, showing overall revenues across the industry decreasing 4 percent compared to the same month last year, with a dip in software sales counteracting growth in hardware and accessory revenue.

Total new retail sales of hardware, software and accessories across consoles, portables and the PC were down to $1.58 billion for the month, though NPD's data does not include software and content sales from the increasingly important digital sector.

For the first quarter of 2011, total spending on new retail gaming products was down 1 percent from the same period in 2010, though NPD analyst Anita Frazier stressed that growth in digital formats would likely make up for that decline.


Overall spending on new retail hardware was up 12 percent year-over-year to $495 million for the month, NPD said, driven by the launch of the 3DS and unit sales increases for the Xbox 360, PSP and PS3.

The Nintendo DS was the top-seller for the March reporting period, NPD revealed, despite the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS in the last week of the month.

The Nintendo 3DS sold roughly 100,000 fewer units in that time than the DS did in its November 2004 launch month, NPD said, which would put the new system's sales somewhere around 380,000 during its launch week.

Microsoft revealed the Xbox 360 sold 433,000 units for the month, up 28 percent from last March, to remain the top-selling new home console for the third straight month.

PlayStation platform hardware sales saw double digit growth from 2010 in March, according to a statement from Sony, though the company declined to provide specific numbers.

In addition, a statement from Nintendo revealed that its Wii console sold more than 290,000 units in the United States in March, giving Nintendo combined hardware sales of more than 1.1 million for the month across all of its platforms.


Overall new retail software sales in the U.S., including PC games, dropped 15 percent in March, down to $791 million for the month. Frazier attributes the dip largely to multiple best-sellers released last March, including Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and God of War 3.

March 2011 had a pair of major sellers in the form of a new set of portable Pokemon games. The titles' one-two punch atop the charts ended Call of Duty: Black Ops' four-month run at the head of the monthly new retail sales rankings, sending the title down to fifth place for the month.

Combined, the new Pokemon titles sold more than the series' previous fastest-selling titles, 2000's Pokemon Silver and Gold, did in their debut month -- totaling out at nearly 2.5 million copies across Black and White, according to Nintendo.

THQ's Homefront debuted in third place for the month, after what THQ reported were worldwide sales of one million units through March 24. BioWare-developed RPG Dragon Age II came in right behind with a fourth place finish.

Super Street Fighter IV was the top seller in the nascent Nintendo 3DS software market, NPD said, after Capcom revealed the title had recently shipped a million units worldwide.

Wii dance titles Just Dance 2 and Zumba Fitness dropped off the top ten charts this month after an impressive run that started over the holidays. Both titles would show up in a top-ten list of titles ranked by individual platform, NPD said, along with PS3 shooter Killzone 3.

The top ten U.S. retail games for March 2011 were as follows:

1. Pokemon White Version (Nintendo) - Nintendo DS
2. Pokemon Black Version (Nintendo) - Nintendo DS
3. Homefront (THQ) - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
4. Dragon Age II (Electronic Arts) - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard) - Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, Wii, PC
6. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts) - Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC
7. Crysis 2 (Electronic Arts) - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
8. NBA 2K11 (Take-Two) - Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP, PC
9. MLB 11: The Show (Sony) - PS3, PSP, PS2
10. Fight Night Champion (Electronic Arts) - Xbox 360, PS3


Total spending on new retail accessories was up 13 percent to $241 million for March, NPD said, with sales of $20 PlayStation Network cards leading the category for the second time since they were first sold in June 2008. "This is another indication of digital growth across consoles and how physical retailers are participating," Frazier said.

Finally, PlayStation peripheral sales, led by the PlayStation Move, saw year-on-year double digit growth for the 19th consecutive month, according to a Sony statement.

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