NPD: Hardware down, software up in 2004

Top industry watchdog found console sales dropped 2.5 percent and game sales rose 4 percent over the last six months.

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According to marketing-information provider NPD, combined American sales of hardware, software, and accessories for major consoles and handheld platforms fell 2.5 percent during the first half of 2004, compared to the same six-month period in 2003. Total retail sales from January 1 to June 30, 2004, amounted to $3.4 billion, as opposed to $3.5 billion last year. While dollar figures fell during the period, the actual number of units sold increased slightly--by 1 percent.

However, sales in individual sectors were more varied. Poor sales of console hardware primarily drove the drop, falling 17 percent year-over-year. Portable software also slipped hard, down 12 percent compared to last year. On the other hand, both console software and accessories saw growth during the first half of 2004, with sales of Internet accessories increasing 120 percent and specialty controllers tripling to 184 percent.

Mind you, it could have been worse. NPD Group senior games analyst Richard Ow said that Microsoft and Sony's decisions to drop the prices of their respective consoles prevented a far bleaker six months for the industry. "While the first quarter of 2004 was showing double-digit losses in console hardware unit sales, with the help of lower price points for the Xbox and PS2 during the second quarter of 2004, the industry actually saw double-digit increases in unit sales for the entire second quarter of the year."

In addition, NPD reported the top 10 console games for the first half, with Electronic Arts' Fight Night 2004 for the PlayStation 2 topping the charts and Halo hanging in at number six after nearly three years on the market. The list is as follows:

  • 1. Fight Night 2004 (PS2) - EA
  • 2. NBA Ballers (PS2) - Midway
  • 3. MVP Baseball 2004 (PS2) - EA
  • 4. Fight Night 2004 (Xbox) - EA
  • 5. Pokemon Colosseum (GC) - Nintendo
  • 6. Halo (Xbox) - Microsoft
  • 7. Red Dead Revolver (PS2) - Take-Two
  • 8. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox) - Ubisoft
  • 9. Shrek 2 (PS2) - Activision
  • 10. Spider-Man 2 (PS2) - Activision

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