NPD: Hardware up, software down in April

Latest report sends mixed messages about US game industry; Pokémon top game, DS top handheld, Wii top console.

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Today, research firm NPD Funworld released its sales figures for its April 2007 reporting period. Overall, the game industry saw another growth month, with $838.6 million in US sales of game hardware, software, and accessories--a 20 percent year-over-year increase.

When broken down, though, NPD's latest report paints a more mixed picture of the state of the US game industry. Most noticeable was the effect of April's scant release schedule. Non-PC game software sales flatlined at $389.8 million, a 1 percent decline from April 2006, when Kingdom Hearts II and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion led a pack of popular releases. However, this year, console software sales slid a dramatic 19 percent year-on-year during the month, totaling only $248.3 million. The slack was picked up by handheld software, which surged 61 percent to $141.5 million, thanks to a double shot of white-hot Pokémon titles. (See below.)

Conversely, hardware sales rose a robust 52 percent to reach 338.4 million during the month. The $99 million in portable hardware revenue was fueled by the DS, which was the month's best-selling platform with 471,000 units. The dual-screen handheld was followed by the PlayStation Portable (183,000 units) and the venerable Game Boy Advance (84,000 units).

Console hardware sales tallied $239.4 million, a 56 percent year-on-year increase. The big winner was the Wii, which sold 360,000 units despite being almost impossible to find at retailers. The PlayStation 2 sold 194,000 units, followed by the Xbox 360 with 174,000 units. The controversy-racked PlayStation 3 was far behind--selling just 82,000 units--but was ahead of the discontinued GameCube's weak 13,000-unit total. (NPD no longer tracks original Xbox hardware, which has also ceased production.)

The PS3 was entirely absent from NPD's top 10 software chart, which was dominated by Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl for the DS. The dynamic duo sold a combined 1.75 million units in just 14 days, with the former (1.045 milllion) handily besting the latter (712,000 units). Pearl's haul was more than double the 352,000 copies that third-place finisher Super Paper Mario sold, and nearly three times that of fourth-place Wii Play's 249,000 units.

Following the block of Nintendo titles came a quartet of Activision games. The 360 Guitar Hero II finished fifth with 197,000 units sold, just ahead of the PS2 edition's 142,000-unit total. The 360 and PS2 versions of the lukewarmly reviewed Spider-Man 3 followed (117,000 and 105,000 units, respectively), with God of War II (PS2--101,000 units) and MLB '07: The Show (PS2--79,000 units) bringing up the rear.

Year to date, the industry has generated some $4.2 billion of hardware, software, and accessories sales, up 46 percent from the same time during 2006. Hardware is up 83 percent at $1.6 billion, software has risen 23 percent to $2 billion, and accessories have climbed 56 percent to $600 million.

APRIL 2007 US HARDWARE SALES (All numbers approximate)
1) DS: 471,000
2) Wii: 360,000
3) PlayStation 2: 194,000
4) PlayStation Portable: 183,000
5) Xbox 360: 174,000
6) Game Boy Advance: 84,000
7) PlayStation 3: 82,000
8) GameCube: 13,000

APRIL 2007 US SOFTWARE SALES (All numbers approximate)
1) Pokémon Diamond (DS - Nintendo) 1.045 million
2) Pokémon Pearl (DS - Nintendo) 712,000
3) Super Paper Mario (Wii - Nintendo) 352,000
4) Wii Play (with Wii Remote - Wii) 249,000
5) Guitar Hero II (with Guitar - Xbox 360 - Activision) 197,000
6) Guitar Hero II (with Guitar - PS2 - Activision) 142,000
7) Spider-Man 3 (360 - Activision) 117,000
8) Spider-Man 3 (PS2 - Activision) 105,000
9) God of War II (PS2 - SCEA) 101,000
10) MLB '07: The Show (PS2 - SCEA) 79,000

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