After a dreary year that saw just one monthly increase in domestic game sales, March came in like a lion…and left like a lion. Thanks to a slew of blockbuster releases, combined sales of non-PC game hardware, software, and accessories for the month increased 6 percent to $1.44 billion, according to the NPD Group.
"In terms of total revenue, March 2010 is the third best non-holiday month on record behind March 2008 and June 2008," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier in a statement.
Hardware sales were the sole dark spot, falling 4 percent to $440.5 million. In the console race, the DS was the top finisher with 700,800 units. In unsurprising second was the Wii with 557,500 units, followed closely by last month's top console, the Xbox 360, with 338,400 units. The PlayStation 3 had to make do with fourth place and 313,900 units, followed by the PSP with 119,900 units, barely ahead of the nearly 10-year-old PlayStation 2's 118,300 units.
"Wii experienced its best non-holiday sales month (hardware) since March 2009," said Frazier, who also called out the PS3. "Sony's PS3 hardware posted its eighth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. For the first time since its launch in the US, the PS3 has four titles in the Top 10, and was also the leader in console software sales."
Sony's God of War III helped US non-PC software sales shoot up in March, rising 10 percent to $875.3 million. The PlayStation 3 exclusive topped NPD's top 10 list with 1.1 million units sold, the first time a game for Sony's platform has done so since Metal Gear Solid 4 in 2008.
That said, NPD's top 10 lists the highest-selling game software products--aka SKUs--and does not combine sales of multiplatform games. Were it to do that, Nintendo would have the top software prize with twin installments in its megapopular Pokemon series, which are ranked as the same game on Japanese sales charts. Some 1.02 million Pokemon SoulSilvers were taken, and 761,200 Pokemon HeartGolds were captured during the month, for a total of 1.78 million.
Another multiplatform release that went platinum was the long, long, long-awaited Final Fantasy XIII. Combined, the game sold 1.322 million units, moving 828,200 copies on the PS3 and 493,900 on the Xbox 360. Square Enix will likely see the latter figure as vindication for its controversial decision to bring the role-playing game to Microsoft's console outside Japan.
The month's last multiplatform platinum game was Battlefield: Bad Company 2, from Electronic Arts' Swedish studio DICE. The first-person shooter opened with a bang, selling a combined 1.276 million units. The Xbox 360 version of the game came in fourth on NPD's top 10 list with 825,500 million units, while the PS3 version trailed in eighth with 451,200 units.
Rounding out the top 10 were two perennial chart fixtures--New Super Mario Bros. (seventh) and the Wii Fit Plus Balance Board bundle (ninth)--and MLB 10: The Show, Sony's well-reviewed baseball sim for the PS3.
MARCH 2010 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Games: $1.52 billion (+6%)
Hardware: $440.5 million (-4%)
Software: $875.3 million (+10%)
Accessories: $206.8 million (+11%)
Xbox 360: 338,400
PlayStation 3: 313,900
PlayStation 2: 118,300
TOP 10 GAMES (by SKU)
Title / Platform / Publisher / Release Date / Units sold
1. God of War III / PS3 / SCEA / Mar-10 / 1.1 million
2. Pokemon SoulSilver / DS / Nintendo / Mar-10 / 1.02 million
3. Final Fantasy XIII / PS3 / Square Enix / Mar-10 / 828,200
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 / X360 / Electronic Arts / Mar-10 / 825,500
5. Pokemon HeartGold / DS / Nintendo / Mar-10 / 761,200
6. Final Fantasy XIII / X360 / Square Enix / Mar-10 / 493,900
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii / Nintendo / Nov-09 / 457,400
8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 / PS3 / Electronic Arts / Mar-10 / 451,200
9. Wii Fit Plus w/ Balance Board / Wii / Nintendo / Oct-09 / 429,600
10. MLB 10: The Show / PS3 / SCEA / Mar-10 / 349,200
Source: The NPD Group