It would probably take a monster of Blanka's ferocity to trip up the Nintendo juggernaut that crushed the US charts for two months running. According to the NPD Group, that's exactly what Street Fighter IV did during the nearly two weeks after its February 17 release. According to figures just released by the industry-research firm, the multiplatform game sold a total of 849,000 units in the US last month, besting Wii Fit's still-stunning 644,000-unit total by more than 200,000.
However, given that NPD's monthly top 10 is by product, or SKU (stock keeping unit), February's official top game was Wii Fit--which was released way back in May 2008. The Xbox 360 version of Street Fighter IV came in second with 446,000 units, followed by the PlayStation 3 edition's 403,000 units. That's an unusually narrow spread for a multiplatform game, perhaps fueled by the fighting genre's need for precision combined with the oft-derided directional pad on Microsoft's console. The PS3 also saw the long-awaited exclusive Killzone 2 crack the top 10, arriving in fifth place by selling 323,000 units in just 48 hours.
Activision scored two top 10 slots, with the 360 edition of Call of Duty: World at War in seventh with 193,000 sold, and the Wii Guitar Hero World Tour in 10th with 136,000 sold. The rest of the show was all Nintendo, with the two-and-a-half-year-old New Super Mario Bros. taking ninth with 144,000 units, and the nearly three-year-old Mario Kart DS racing off with eighth place and 145,000 units. Wii Play, which NPD continues to list as software despite it being bundled with a Wii Remote, took fourth place with 386,000 copies sold.
NPD's top game analyst, Anita Frazier, was quick to dole out the laurels. "Consumers picked up nearly 20 million units of video game software in February, a 14 percent increase [in units] over February 2008," she said in a statement. "The average retail price for games is 4 percent lower than last year, which is why the dollar-sales increase is not quite keeping in pace with the increase in unit sales."
Nintendo's success in software was met with commensurate dominance in US hardware sales. The popular Wii continues to be in ample supply, selling 753,000 units--up from 679,200 units in January. Far behind were second-place finishers the Xbox 360 (391,000 units), the PS3 (276,000 units), and the last of the legacy systems, the PlayStation 2 (131,000).
"The Xbox 360 realized its biggest non-holiday sales month, save for September 2007, when the Halo 3 release brought in a large group of new owners," said Frazier. "Compared to last month, the PS3 realized the greatest month-over-month unit sales increase of all platforms."
Despite the looming April 5 launch of the DSi, the handheld's current iterations continued to sell well, moving 588,000 units. The figure was nearly three times that of its closest rival, Sony's PSP, which racked up 199,000 units during the month.
Overall, game sales continued climbing in the face of a plummeting stock market and widening recession. NPD reports that US retail sales of hardware, software, and accessories increased 10 percent to hit $1.47 billion in February, bringing the year-to-date total to $2.81 billion, an 11 percent increase year-over-year. Software sales rose 9 percent to hit $733.5 million ($1.41 billion YTD), with hardware growing 11 percent to $532.7 million ($978.4 million YTD). Accessories spiked 13 percent to hit $207.1 million during the month, totaling $418.6 million for the year.
US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - FEBRUARY 2009
Software: $733.5M (+9%)
Hardware: $532.7M (+11%)
Accessories: $207.1M (+13%)
Total Games: $1.47B (+10%)
TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - FEBRUARY 2009
Nintendo DS: 588,000
Xbox 360: 391,000
PlayStation 3: 276,000
PlayStation Portable: 199,000
PlayStation 2: 131,000
TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE SKUs - FEBRUARY 2009
Title / Publisher / Units*
1) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (Wii) / Nintendo / 644,000
2) Street Fighter IV (360) / Capcom / 446,000
3) Street Fighter IV (PS3) / Capcom / 403,000
4) Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) / Nintendo / 386,000
5) Killzone 2 (PS3) / Sony / 323,000
6) Mario Kart Wii with Wheel (Wii) / Nintendo / 263,000
7) Call of Duty: World at War (360) / Activision Blizzard / 193,000
8) Mario Kart DS (DS) / Nintendo / 145,000
9) New Super Mario Bros. (DS) / Nintendo / 144,000
10) Guitar Hero World Tour (Wii) / Activision Blizzard / 136,000
* Figures include Collector's Editions and non-hardware bundles.