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NPD February: More Gaming Growth

Leading up to another month of retail statistics reflecting the health of the gaming industry, analysts were mixed on their forecasts. Some thought the video game sector would slip slightly in February while others predicted steady, but modest, growth. With data in, the bulls won the pool.

Based on NPD data released today, February video game sales showed sequential and year over year growth.  For the month, the total tally climbed from $1.33b in January to $1.47b in sales.  Year over year it was a ten percent gain.

All of the subcategories tracked in the sector saw comparable growth with percentage returns straddling the double digit mark.  The accessories category showed the highest percentage growth with a gain of 13% over 2008.  Software was the weakest category with a 9% improvement.

Breaking out results by category:

Within the hardware segment, all of the devices grew sequentially but Nintendo remained well out in front of the competition in total sales.   Finishing first, Nintendo’s  Wii closed the month with 753k units sold.  The DS portable, even with an upgraded DSi model due in early April, raced to second with 588k.  In third, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 returned its second best non-holiday result with 391k units.  Sony, still behind its peers, improved month to month with sales of 276k PS3’s. The PSP portable sold 199k units.

Overall, the hardware segment yielded $532.7m, an 11% year over year gain.

The story with software was two-fold.  The first keynote is that “Triple-A” franchises continue to draw buyers over new IP.  Capcom’s latest edition of Street Fighter (Street Fighter IV) moved a cumulative 849k units across platforms (Xbox 360 and PS3), good enough for the top slot in total sales (or #2 and #3 on the top ten list when listed as platform specific SKU’s).  Other sequels also performed strongly including Sony’s PS3 exclusive Killzone 2 (#5 in the top ten), and Activision’s Call of Duty and Guitar Hero installments.

The second story in software was Nintendo’s continued success with owned-IP.  Six of the top ten titles on the month were for Nintendo platforms and five of those six, were Nintendo’s own offerings.   The trifecta of hardware bundled titles for the Wii – Wii Fit, Wii Play and Mario Kart with Wheel- sold a combined total of more than 1.29m units. Individually ranked the titles were good for number one, four and six in the monthly top ten.

Overall, Software sales were up 9% in February to $733.5m.  Unit sales were up even higher.  NPD’s Anita Frazier noted that unit tallies rose 14% year over year. 

Frazier predicted the momentum for the industry is likely carry into the March results.  Between Pokemon Platinum, GTA Chinatown Wars, Halo Wars and Resident Evil 5, there are a lot of high profile software titles hitting the market and fueling sales.

Early indicators suggest both Microsoft’s Halo Wars and Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 will perform extremely well.

Here are the rest of the February  results, by the numbers:

February Hardware Sales (in units sold) (January Result)
• Wii: 753,000 (679,200)
• Nintendo DS: 588,000 (510,800)
• Xbox 360: 391,000 (309,000)
• PlayStation 3: 276,000 (203,200)
• PlayStation Portable: 199,000 (172,300)

February Software Sales (Title, (Platform, Publisher, – Units), (Last Month’s Position in Top Ten)
1. Wii Fit with Balance Board (Wii,Nintendo , – 644,000),(#1)
2. Street Fighter IV (360,Capcom , – 446,000),(N/A)
3. Street Fighter IV (PS3,Capcom , – 403,000), (N/A)
4. Wii Play with Remote (Wii,Nintendo , – 386,000), (#2)
5. Killzone 2 (PS3,Sony , – 323,000), (N/A)
6. Mario Kart Wii with Wheel (Wii,Nintendo , – 263,000), (#3)
7. Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360,Activision Blizzard , – 193,000), (#5)
8. Mario Kart DS (DS,Nintendo , – 145,000), (#9)
9. New Super Mario Bros. (DS,Nintendo , – 144,000), (#8)
10. Guitar Hero World Tour (Wii,Activision Blizzard , – 136,000),(#7)

February, Overall Industry Totals (Total ( % Change Y/Y)(Last month’s total))
Video Games: $1.47b (10%) ($1.33b)
Video Games Hardware:$532.7m  (11%) ($445.4m)
Video Games Software: $ 733.5m (9%) ($676.6m)
Video Game Accessories: $207.1m ( 13%) ($209.8m)

For comparative data, NPD’s data from prior reports can be found by clicking the names of the month as follows:
2009: January
2008: •January  •FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember December
2007: •February•March•April•May•June•July•August •September•OctoberNovember December

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