Nov. US PC game retail sales hit $51.7 million, Call of Duty top 2009 franchise

NPD analyst pegs total store-bought software figure at $1.46 million last month; Activision's shooter franchise most lucrative so far in 2009.

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Yesterday, the NPD Group issued its monthly US game-industry retail sales recap for November, reporting that total sales had slipped 7.6 percent to $2.7 billion. Non-PC software came closest to hitting last year's mark, slipping just 3 percent to $1.41 billion. However, that figure was heavily inflated by the stupendous success of just one game: Activision and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold a combined 6 million units on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Modern Warfare 2 has neutralized the competition in 2009.
Modern Warfare 2 has neutralized the competition in 2009.

Today, NPD analyst Anita Frazier offered a few more brief updates concerning November game sales by way of her Twitter feed. Factoring in PC retail sales, November's total software haul hit $1.46 billion for the month, a 6.6 percent decline over the same period in 2008. Frazier clarified that total for GameSpot, noting that PC game sales brought in $51.7 million on the month, with the remaining portion derived from console and portable game sales.

Notably, NPD does not track game sales through nontraditional channels such as digital distribution, which would include Valve's popular PC download service Steam. In addition, November 2008 saw unusually high PC game revenues thanks to the record-setting launch of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, which sold 2.8 million units worldwide in 24 hours.

In a second Twitter post, Frazier also laid out the most lucrative franchises in 2009 through November. Thanks in large part to Modern Warfare 2's record-setting debut, the Call of Duty franchise topped Frazier's list. Activision's shooter franchise has also continued to see strong sales from the Treyarch-developed World at War. In June, the publisher said the game had sold 11 million units since its November 2008 launch.

Wii Fit ranked second in Frazier's list. The Balance Board-equipped fitness simulator has been a mainstay on NPD's monthly accounting since its May 2008 launch. Wii Fit Plus, launched in October 2009, has seen similar success, placing seventh on November's sales chart with 679,000 units sold. Nintendo's Mario Bros. franchise came in third, bolstered by the 1.39 million-unit debut of New Super Mario Bros. in November as well as Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story's 258,100-unit debut on the DS in September.

The rhythm game franchise has struggled this year, but the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises still managed a respective fourth and fifth on Frazier's list. New additions to Activision's rhythm franchise this year include Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, and offshoots such as DJ Hero and Band Hero. Lego Rock Band and The Beatles: Rock Band represent the two major releases from MTV Games' rhythm game series this year.

Top 5 franchises year-to-date through November by dollar sales
1) Call of Duty
2) Wii Fit
3) Mario Bros.
4) Guitar Hero
5) Rock Band

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