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April NPD Data Out: Gaming’s Monthly Report Card

You can chalk up April as a poor month in game sales (sort of).  Matching up to prior predictions, NPD reports the US video game industry returned a second month of double digit sales decline in year over year comparisons.  Revenues fell off 17% year over year.  The year over year growth rates don’t quite tell the whole story, however.

As was partly the case in March too, without the breakout success of hits issued during the same period last year (Mario Kart and Grand Theft Auto IV), the growth numbers were doomed to be weaker. 

Explains NPD’s Anita Frazier, “while April sales might appear soft on the surface, it’s important to remember that April is being compared against a month (2008) that realized nearly 50% growth over April 2007.  This year’s performance still represents the second best performance for the industry in the month of April.”   This year beat out the previously second best April, April 2007, by 26% percent.

Setting aside the year over year growth rate, overall, the month’s performance was reasonably sound.   NPD tabulated total sales of $1.03b.

By category, hardware sales were off 8% to $391.63m.  Nintendo topped out the list with the best sales performance for consoles and portables.  The new DSi portable, which debuted the first week of April, truly outperformed. The latest generation portable sold a massive 1.04m units.  The Wii sold 340k units to finish second. The rest of the pack failed to sell more than 175k units per platform.

In software, the industry rang up $510.74m in sales.  Consequence of the weaker slate, that amounted to a 23% decline Y/Y.  The minimum requirement to break into this month’s top ten list was just 91k units.

Among the vendors, it was unquestionably Nintendo’s month.  The top four slots of the top ten list were all taken by Nintendo owned IP.  Wii Fit topped out at 471k units and Pokemon Platinum for the DS finished second with 433 units sold. Both games sold more than double any other title placing on the list.

Looking at platforms, in total, six of the top ten slots were taken by games serving Nintendo platforms: 3 games for the Wii, and three for the DS.  The Xbox 360 was also represented with 3 games. The PS3 took one slot.

Among 3rd party producers, EA’s Godfather II was the top title overall, placing fifth (360) and 10th (PS3) for combined cross-platform sales of 246k units.  (That would have been good enough for a third place finish if counted as one).  Capcom grabbed a slot with its Resident Evil sequel (RE 5) and Activision Blizzard  snagged one spot (#9) with its Aerosmith edition of Guitar Hero for the 360.

Looking at the rest of the month by the numbers:

April Hardware Sales (in units sold) (March Result)
• Nintendo DS/DSi: 1.04m (563k)
• Wii: 340k (601k)
• Xbox 360: 175k (330k)
• PlayStation 3: 127k (218k)
• PlayStation Portable: 116k (168k)

April Software Sales (Title, (Platform, Publisher, – Units), (Last Month’s Position in Top Ten)
1. Wii Fit with Balance Board (Wii , Nintendo – 471k), (#5)
2. Pokemon Platinum (DS , Nintendo – 433k), (#2)
3. Mario Kart Wii with Wheel (Wii , Nintendo – 210k) (#9)
4. Wii Play with Remote (Wii , Nintendo – 170k ) (#8)
5. The Godfather II (360 , EA – 155k) (NA)
6. Resident Evil 5 (360. , Capcom – 122k) (#1)
7. New Super Mario Bros. (DS , Nintendo – 119k) (NA)
8. Mario Kart DS (DS , Nintendo – 112k) (NA)
9. Guitar Hero Aerosmith (360 , Activision Blizzard – 110k) (NA)
10. The Godfather II (PS3 , EA – 91k) (NA)

April, Overall Industry Totals (Total ( % Change Y/Y) (Last month’s total))
Video Games: $1.03b (-17%) ($1.43b)
Video Games Hardware:$ 391.63m (-8%) ($455.55m)
Video Games Software: $ 510.74m( -23%) ($792.83m)
Video Game Accessories: $129.45m ( -15%) ($185.67m)

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

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