Game sales to break skid in April - Analyst

Wedbush's Michael Pachter predicts 15% software climb for last month, led by Portal 2's 2.4 million domestic sales, 500K for Mortal Kombat.

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Game software sales haven't seen a month of positive growth at US retailers since November, but according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, that skid was broken in April. In a note to investors this morning, Pachter forecast US retail software sales growth of 15 percent to $460 million, which would be only the fourth month of growth in the past year.

Portal 2 is opening to a room full of money.
Portal 2 is opening to a room full of money.

Pachter attributed the substantial growth to the glut of high-quality titles released during the month. Valve's Portal 2 led new-game sales during the month, according to the analyst, with US retail sales expected to come in at around 2.4 million units (of which, 2.2 million were sold for consoles). Warner Bros. also may have scored a hit with Mortal Kombat, which Pachter believes debuted with 500,000 units sold.

Despite the ongoing PlayStation Network outage, Sony's SOCOM 4: US Navy SEALs also put up decent numbers in its debut month, selling 225,000 units, according to Pachter. He also believed that Nintendo's Pokemon Black and White, as well as Ubisoft's Just Dance 2, continued their respective strong sales runs.

On the hardware side, Pachter expects the Xbox 360 to be the sales leader with 315,000 units, followed closely by the DS's 300,000 units. The Wii, which received a $50 price cut in May, sold 215,000 units last month, Pachter believes, with the PlayStation 3 coming in at 210,000 units possibly sold.

Pachter remained down on the 3DS, which he believes sold just 200,000 units in April. "We initially expected the launch of the 3DS to spike overall software sales growth back into positive territory beginning in April, but the handheld is off to a slow start, as a lack of compelling software has kept many consumers on the sidelines for the expensive hardware," he said.

As part of its fiscal year-end earnings report in April, Nintendo said global 3DS sales stood at 3.61 million units through March. That figure was about 400,000 units shy of projections, and company president Satoru Iwata said that Nintendo would be stepping up marketing for the glasses-free, 3D-enabled device.

The NPD Group is expected to issue its April sales report on May 12.

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