Surprise! Video game sales grew in March, NPD Group says
The video game industry's yearlong sales drought may be at an end.
Driven by a monster lineup of launch titles that included God of War III and Final Fantasy XIII, sales of video games and consoles in the U.S. rose 6% in March to $1.5 billion compared with $1.4 billion a year ago, according to market research firm NPD Group.
The gain was only the industry's third since February 2009. But analysts say that the retail games business may be turning the corner as consumers show signs of spending more freely.
"I think that the industry is going to show solid growth going forward," said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. "May's lineup is virtually certain to drive sales growth well above 25%, and I think that once we hit June, there is no looking back, with the industry on a solid growth trajectory."
Other analysts were more measured with their optimism, noting that March in general is an unusually strong sales month because game companies tend to push out titles then to bolster their financial results for the quarter. Many of last month's top releases, for example, came from publishers whose fiscal year ended March 31, including Sony, Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Square Enix, said Jesse Divnich, an analyst with Electronic Entertainment Design and Research in San Diego.
Still, Divnich said overall sales "certainly reflect an inflection point for the industry."
As for March, the gods favored Sony, whose God of War III release topped the chart of best-selling titles. Its baseball game, MLB 10: The Show, rounded out the list at No. 10. Sony also sold 313,900 PlayStation 3 consoles, posting its eighth consecutive monthly sales gain, according to NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
But because of a shortage of PS3s, Sony still came in behind Nintendo, which sold 557,500 Wii consoles, and Microsoft with 338,400 Xbox 360s sold.
For the Top 10 best-selling games in March, click on the continue reading link below.
Top 10 video games for March 2010
- 1. God of War III (PlayStation 3) 1.1 million units
- 2. Pokemon Soulsilver (Nintendo DS) 1 million
- 3. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) 828,200
- 4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360) 825,500
- 5. Pokemon Heartgold (DS) 761,200
- 6. Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360) 493,900
- 7. New Super Mario Bros. (Wii) 457,400
- 8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3) 451,200
- 9. Wii Fit Plus (Wii) 429,600
- 10. MLB 10: The Show (PS3) 349,200
Source: NPD Group
-- Alex Pham
Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.
Screen Shot: God of War III. Credit: Sony.