NPD: BioShock Infinite soars to top spot in March US sales

Irrational Games' shooter month's best-seller; overall industry sales slide 10 percent to $992.5 million.

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BioShock Infinite was March 2013's top-selling title in the United States, according to data from the NPD Group published today. Overall industry sales slid 10 percent during the month to $992.5 million.

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Rounding out the month's top five titles were Tomb Raider, Gears of War: Judgment, God of War: Ascension, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Of note, all top ten titles for March were sequels.

NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan explained in a statement that the $992.5 million in total sales equals only about half of the true market spend for the month.

"When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in March such as used and rentals at $190 million, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps, and the consumer spend on social network games at $670 million, we would estimate the total consumer spend in March to be just under $1.9 billion," Callahan said.

Hardware suffered in March, with "deep declines" of 32 percent in dollar spend, with stronger downturns for portable hardware than for traditional consoles. The Nintendo 3DS was an anomaly, with sales for the platform growing 9 percent year-over-year.

The NPD Group does not disclose specific console sales data, but Microsoft announced today that the Xbox 360 sold 261,000 units during March and was the top-performer for the period. Sony and Nintendo have not made any sales data available.

Software sales in March 2013 across consoles, portables, and PC were up 2 percent, the first month of positive growth since November 2011.

"The performance of new launches was a major driver of the overall software growth for this month, with games launching in March 2013 selling over 40 percent more units than new launches in March 2012. There were positive trends for new launches that were seen across consoles, portables, and PC."

Callahan explained that March 2013 saw 20 percent fewer new releases, but these games generated nearly 70 percent more dollar sales per SKU than last year.

"With solid performances of new games like Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, and Monster Hunter Ultimate 3, 3DS software sales increased over 50 percent from last March."

March was a positive month for publisher Take-Two, as the strength of BioShock Infinite combined with continued sales of NBA 2K13 helped the publisher achieve the highest sales for an individual company since the NPD Group began tracking retail sales in 1995.

"Two strong launches for the month included Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite, which were the highest first month sales for games in these franchises," Callahan said.

Switching to accessories, this sector was flat in dollar sales during March 2013, coming in at $216.1 million.

"While accessory spending was flat in dollar sales, continued strength of Skylanders, point cards, and headsets/ headphones resulted in a 15 percent growth in unit sales for March 2013 over March 2012," Callahan said.

MARCH US GAME SALES (March 3-April 6, 2013)
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES

Total retail sales: $992.5 million (-10%)
Non-PC hardware: $221.6 million (-32%)
Non-PC software: $554.8 (-1%)
Accessories: $216.1 (0%)
Total software: $602.4 million (2%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR MARCH 2013
Title (Platforms) - Publisher

1. BioShock Infinite (X360, PS3, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
2. Tomb Raider (X360, PS3) - Square Enix
3. Gears of War: Judgment (X360) - Microsoft
4. God of War: Ascension (PS3) Sony
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360, PS3, PC, Wii U) - Activision Blizzard
6. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) - Nintendo
7. MLB13: The Show (PS3, PS Vita) - Sony
8. NBA 2K13 (X360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, PSP, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
9. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (X360, PS3, Wii U) - Activision Blizzard
10. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (X360, PS3) - Namco Bandai Games

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