March was another tough month at retail, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. Despite the recent launch of the PlayStation Vita and BioWare's Mass Effect 3, the industry watcher predicts that US retail software and hardware sales fell during the month.
Pachter anticipates that the NPD Group, which will distribute its official March industry data this week, will report retail software sales dropping for the fourth month running. He anticipates software revenues to come in at $565 million for March 2012, a 23 percent drop from the year prior.
Pachter said he doesn't expect the industry to record positive software growth until May, which sees the release of a trio of much-anticipated games like Diablo III, Max Payne 3, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
As for hardware, Pachter anticipates that total March 2012 unit sales plummeted 32 percent from the year prior. The analyst attributed the downturn partly to the high-profile Nintendo 3DS launch during March 2011. Specifically, Pachter envisions that the PS Vita--which went on sale in February--notched 125,000 units in March, a figure described as "meaningfully below our expectations."
"We believe the PS Vita is unlikely to match its February unit sales figure in the near future as the buzz caused by its release dies down, and TV commercials become more infrequent," Pachter said.
As for when hardware sales will bounce back, Pachter said it won't happen until price cuts arrive.
"We expect hardware sales to rebound once price cuts are implemented, but expect a recurrence of the dip next holiday, partially buffered by some modest contribution from the introduction of the PS Vita in February and the Wii U later this year."