NPD: February sees 34 percent US sales spike

American game market bucks recession, beats analyst expectations with $1.33 billion haul; PS3 bests 360 for second month running; COD4, DMC4 top games.

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With stocks falling, housing values plummeting, and the Federal Reserve dishing out emergency loans, most economists agree most parts of the US economy are on the verge of a recession. Conversely, the game industry is on the rebound, according to the latest report from the NPD group. After a mixed January, US retail sales of game software, hardware, and accessories shot up 34 percent in February, topping $1.33 billion and beating analyst expectations.

See that case? It's full of money.
See that case? It's full of money.

"Even following a red-hot 2007, the video games industry shows no sign of letting up as year-to-date sales through February are up 12 percent over last year," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "Taking the extra week of sales included in the 2007 figures, on a comparable week's basis, 2008 is up approximately 26 percent over last year (through February)."

Of the various sectors, software generated the most revenue, rising 47 percent to nearly $669 million. The month's best-selling title was once again the Xbox 360 edition of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which moved 296,200 units during the month. Hot on its heels was the hellfire-kissed Devil May Cry 4, which sold 295,200 on the 360 (2nd) and 233,500 units on the PlayStation 3 (4th). DMC4's massive combined 528,7000-unit haul made it the best-selling domestic multiplatform game of the month, all but ensuring a Devil May Cry 5 somewhere down the line.

Coming in third was the ubiquitous Wii Play, which sold just shy of 290,000 units by virtue of being bundled with the Wii Remote. Another Wii game, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, came in fifth with 222,900 units sold. Rounding out the top 10 were Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS, 205,600 units), Lost Odyssey (360, 203,600 units), Turok (360, 197,700 units), the PS2 version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (183,00 units), and Rock Band (360, 161,800 units).

On the hardware front, Nintendo was once again the undisputed victor, with the DS selling 587,600 units and the Wii 432,000. However, the Xbox 360, the third-place finisher for most of 2007, finished at the bottom of the pack once again, coming in fifth with 254,600 units. It was bested by both the PlayStation 2's 351,800 units and 280,000 units of the Blu-ray-disc-playing PlayStation 3, which was boosted by the lighting-quick implosion of the rival HD DVD format last month. Last and, numerically speaking, least was the PlayStation Portable with 243,100 units.

"While hardware inventory issues at retail may still be lingering post-holiday, the fact that all now-gen systems generated significant year-over-year hardware sales increases indicates the situation is coming into balance faster than it did last year," said Frazier. "I was most surprised by the PS2 hardware sales numbers this month. While it certainly has earned its spot among the now-gen slate of console systems because of it staying power in the marketplace, the fact that it realized such significant growth this month is really a testament to its broad adoption and the response of consumers to promotional activity at retail."

Even before NPD released its report to the press, the big three console makers were filling inboxes worldwide with their own spin on the matter. Saying it was "extending its lead" in overall sales, Microsoft claimed that "$332 million was spent on the Xbox 360 platform this month, capturing 39 percent of this generation's ecosystem." The software giant also claimed that the US installed base for the 360 is 9.6 million versus the Wii's 8.1 million and the PS3's 3.8 million.

Unsurprisingly, Sony made much of the PS3's trumping of the 360 for the second month in a row, and played up that sales of the console have increased 120 percent year over year. It also reminded the world of several exclusives for the platform, Gran Turismo 5 prologue (April 15) and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (June 12). Sony also announced there are 3.3 million registered PlayStation Network visitors in North America who have downloaded 56 million pieces of content.

Finally, Nintendo took the obvious approach, noting that 47.6 percent of all hardware sold in the US in February bore its logo. Software sales weren't too shabby, either. "Nintendo DS games topped all software sales, with more than 3.6 million units sold," the company crowed in a statement. "Consumers purchased nearly 2.9 million software units for Wii. Four of every 10 games sold were for Nintendo systems."

US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - FEBRUARY 2008

Software: $668.7m (+47%)
Hardware: $480.0 million (+19%)
Accessories: $185.3m (+36%)
Total Games: $1.33 billion (+34%)

TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - FEBRUARY 2008

Nintendo DS 587,600
Wii 432,000
PlayStation 2 351,800
PlayStation 3 280,800
Xbox 360 254,600
PlayStation Portable 243,100

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE - FEBRUARY 2008

Title / Publisher / Release Date / Units
1) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare* (360) / Activision / 7-Nov 296.2K
2) Devil May Cry 4* (360) / Capcom 8-Feb / 295.2k
3) Wii Play w/ Remote* (Wii) / Nintendo / 7-Feb / 289.7K
4) Devil May Cry 4* (PS3) / Capcom / 8-Feb / 233.5K
5) Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock* (Wii) / Activision / 7-Oct / 222.9K
6) Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS) / Sega / 8-Jan / 205.6K
7) Lost Odyssey (360) / Microsoft / 8-Feb / 203.6K
8) Turok (360) / Touchstone / 8-Jan / 197.7K
9) Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock* (PS2) / Activision / 7-Oct / 183.8K
10) Rock Band* (360) / MTV Games, Electronic Arts / 7-Nov / 161.8K

*Includes Collector's, Limited, Legendary, Bundles (Guitars) Editions

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