L.A. Noire tops slumping May sales - NPD

Rockstar claims month for second year in a row as total sales slip 14 percent to $743 million; Xbox 360 leads hardware with 270,000 units.

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Today, the NPD Group released its May US retail sales report, revealing that the game industry could not maintain two consecutive months of sales growth. After April 2011 numbers spiked 20 percent year-over-year, May's total game-industry haul for new console, portable, and PC games, as well as gaming hardware and accessories, fell 14 percent to $743.1 million.

NPD fingers L.A. Noire as the best-selling game in May.
NPD fingers L.A. Noire as the best-selling game in May.

Rockstar Games appears to be making a habit out of releasing the top game in May. Following on from Red Dead Redemption's platinum debut in May 2010, the Team Bondi-developed L.A. Noire placed atop NPD's software sales charts last month. Though NPD no longer publicly releases unit sales numbers, it did say that Bethesda Softworks' Brink achieved the second-best performance.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, from Disney Interactive Studios, was the only other new release for the remainder of NPD's top 10 chart. Software returning to the charts included Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat, which reigned in April, as well as continued strong performances from Call of Duty: Black Ops, Zumba Fitness, NBA 2K11, Just Dance 2, and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.

"This month's story really is about a light new release schedule as compared to last year," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said of the results. "There were 42 new SKUs introduced in May as compared to 58 last May, and 72 in 2009. This is reflected in the share of dollars contributed by May releases, which was 28% in 2011 as compared to 41% last year."

Turning to hardware, Microsoft again claimed victory for May, independently announcing that it has outsold Nintendo's and Sony's consoles in 11 of the past 12 months. The Xbox 360 sold 270,000 units in May, according to Microsoft, up 39 percent year-over-year. Microsoft also noted that total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform, including hardware, software, and accessories, reached $265 million last month.

In its own post-NPD statement, Sony was parsimonious with information, saying only that the PlayStation 3 grew sales 14 percent during the month. Frazier noted that Sony's PSP also grew sales in May, but she was less upbeat about 3DS sales. Though Nintendo had not issued its own statement as of press time, Frazier characterized 3DS sales during the month as "light." Overall, hardware sales during the month slipped 5 percent to $228.9 million.

MAY 2011 US GAME SALES
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $743.1 million (-14%)
Total non-PC retail sales: $718.8 million (-13%)
Non-PC hardware: $228.9 million (-5%)
Total software: $400.1 million (-21%)
Non-PC software: $375.8 million (-19%)
Accessories: $114 million (-6%)

TOP 10 GAMES FOR MAY 2011
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. L.A. Noire (360, PS3) - Rockstar Games
2. Brink (360, PS3, PC) - Bethesda Softworks
3. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, 3DS, DS, PC) - Disney Interactive Studios
4. Portal 2 (360, PS3, PC) - EA Partners
5. Mortal Kombat (360, PS3) - Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, DS, Wii, PC) - Activision
7. Zumba Fitness (360, PS3, Wii) - Majesco
8. NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
9. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - Ubisoft
10. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, 360, DS, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC) - LucasArts

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