Mass Effect 3 soars as March sales sink

NPD Group reports total US gaming sales down 25 percent to $1.1 billion despite BioWare's latest doubling up the first-month sales of Mass Effect 2.

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While gamers were busy taking back Earth, Mass Effect 3 was taking the top spot on the March sales charts. The NPD Group today revealed its March US retail sales figures, showing the BioWare role-playing game topped the software charts and doubled the first-month sales put up by Mass Effect 2 in January 2010.

Take back the sales charts.

Unfortunately, Mass Effect 3 was not enough to save the industry from its third straight month of sharply declining sales. The game industry's total retail take for the month was $1.1 billion, down 25 percent year-over-year. Software was down 26 percent to $585.1 million, while hardware plummeted 35 percent to $323.5 million. The Xbox 360 once again topped all hardware systems, with the NPD group saying the hardware notched its 15th straight month as the best-selling console, and 8th straight as the best-selling platform overall.

Accessories posted a strong figure relative to the rest of the industry, down just 8 percent to $222.5 million. That number was due in part to Activision's Skylanders action figure three-packs, all of which placed in the month's top 10 peripherals purchased.

Last month did see a number of new releases make the charts behind BioWare's latest, most notably Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (second), MLB 12: The Show (third), and SSX (fifth). In all, eight of the top 10 games were new arrivals, with NBA 2K12 and Modern Warfare 3 the only catalog games on the charts for the month. Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS missed the top 10 (which counts sales across all platforms), although the NPD Group said it was among the 10 best-selling single SKUs for the month.

MARCH 2012 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $1.10 billion (-25%)
Non-PC hardware: $323.5 million (-35%)
Non-PC software: $553.1 million (-25%)
Total software: $585.1 million (-26%)
Accessories: $222.5 million (-8%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR MARCH 2012
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Mass Effect 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Electronic Arts
2. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (X360, PS3) - Capcom
3. MLB 12: The Show (PS3, PSV) - Sony
4. NBA 2K12 (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC) - Take-Two
5. SSX (X360, PS3) - Electronic Arts
6. Street Fighter x Tekken (PS3, X360) - Capcom
7. Mario Party 9 (Wii) - Nintendo
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (X360, PS3, PC, Wii) - Activision
9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (X360, PS3) - Namco Bandai
10. MLB 2K12 (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC) - Take-Two

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