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Video game sales get rare lift in February

March 10, 2011 |  4:12 pm

Michael Jackson Dance Game The video game industry received a rare lift in February, with sales rising 3% in the U.S. as consumers dug deeper into their pockets to buy motion controllers and consoles from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp.

Americans spent $1.36 billion last month on games and consoles, up from $1.33 billion in February 2010, according to a report released Thursday by the research firm NPD Group. A 10% uptick in console sales helped offset a 5% decline in the amount of money players spent on games.

While consumers bought more games in February than last year, the average selling price plunged this year, triggering a drop in game sales to $601.4 million last month from $633.6 million a year earlier, according to NPD.

Console accessories, once a sleepy category, surged 22% to $257 million from $210 million, driven in large part by sales of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect motion controller, which retails for $150. The Redmond, Wash., technology giant on Wednesday announced it had sold 10 million Kinect controllers since launching the device in November.

At the same time, sales of portable consoles such as the Nintendo Dual Screen and the Sony PSP, suffered a 27% drop as more consumers use their smart phones to play games on the go. Nintendo’s release later this month of its 3DS portable console, which boasts glassless 3-D viewing, is aimed at giving the category a much needed boost.

Among game titles, Activision Blizzard Inc.'s Call of Duty: Black Ops retained its No. 1 position despite being on the market since November. “It has now become the bestselling game in history, topping Wii Play,” said Anita Frazier, an NPD game analyst.

Dancing games also dominated the charts, with Ubisoft Entertainment’s Just Dance 2 and Michael Jackson the Experience moonwalking their way to the Nos. 2 and 9 positions, respectively. For a list of the top 10 titles, click the Continue Reading link below.

 Top 10 U.S. Games in February 2011 (Publisher)

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard)

2. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds  (Capcom)

3. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft)

4. NBA 2K11 (Take-Two Interactive)

5. Dead Space 2 (Electronic Arts)

6. Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Majesco)

7. Bulletstorm (Electronic Arts)

8. Killzone 3 (Sony)

9. Michael Jackson The Experience (Ubisoft)

10. Mario Sports Mix (Nintendo)

Source: NPD Group

-- Alex Pham