Modern Warfare 3 ignites November retail growth - Analyst

Wedbush's Michael Pachter projects 3 percent software sales climb in US last month, led by Call of Duty; Saints Row hurt by crowd.

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The US retail industry has strung together back-to-back months of non-PC software sales growth, having posted 3 percent climbs in both September and October. And according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, November non-PC software sales make three's a charm.

Modern Warfare 3 earned $775 million during its first five days of availability.
Modern Warfare 3 earned $775 million during its first five days of availability.

As part of his monthly NPD preview today, Pachter projected November software sales of $1.45 billion, up 3 percent compared to the same period in 2010. Unsurprisingly, the primary catalyst for this growth was Activision Blizzard's first-person shooter juggernaut Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which Pachter believes sold 9 million units during the month.

Modern Warfare 3's projected sales represent a 10 percent increase over last year's Black Ops, Pachter said. He also said that a strong release lineup in general helped the game industry beat last November, when Microsoft launched the Kinect for the Xbox 360. That competition, he said, drove publishers to increase their marketing spend, which also resulted in bigger sales figures.

Not everyone benefited from the competition, however. Of THQ, Pachter projected Saints Row: The Third sales of 800,000 units, a figure he believes was hurt by the crowded slate. Pachter also said that THQ's uDraw saw lethargic demand on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while WWE '12 sales slipped year-over-year due to franchise fatigue.

Overexposure of a franchise is also proving to be an issue for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, according to Pachter. He believes Revelations sold 1 million units following its debut, which is less than last year's Brotherhood, due to franchise fatigue and lower-than-expected review scores. The game currently has an 80 Metacritic average, compared to Brotherhood's 89.

Pachter believes Need for Speed: The Run underperformed for EA, selling just 250,000 units. Meanwhile, he projected sales of Super Mario 3D Land at 700,000 units and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword at 500,000 units. That Skyward Sword figure is likely low, considering Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime pegged Black Friday sales of the game at 535,000 units.

Turning to hardware, Pachter believes Xbox 360 sales topped the charts with 1.45 million units sold during the month, up 5 percent year-over-year. PlayStation 3 sales climbed significantly during the period, he believes, jumping 41 percent to 750,000. He also projected that Wii sales fell 17 percent to 1.05 million and 760,000 3DS units were sold.

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