NPD: November game sales up 15 percent

Industry tracking group shows an expected rebound after October's sales figures were surprisingly flat; 197,000 PS3s, 476,000 Wiis sold in US.

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After months of year-over-year growth, October's sales figures surprised some analysts and industry watchers. With the market-depressing effects of a console transition largely behind them, US retailers started off the key fourth quarter of the year with sales more or less in line with what they had taken in for October 2005.

Despite that month's unspectacular showing, analysts were upbeat this week in anticipation of significant sales growth for November. And according to the industry tracking NPD Group, their optimism was justified. For the month of November, US retail game sales amounted to roughly $804 million, a 15 percent increase over the prior year's $702 million.

Sales were led by the Xbox 360 release Gears of War (which broke the million-unit mark), followed by Square Enix's Final Fantasy XII and Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii. Twilight Princess was the only game for either of the month's newly released systems--the Wii and the PlayStation 3--to crack the top-10 best-selling games (by units sold).

Despite the performance of Gears of War and the release of Sony's and Nintendo's next-gen consoles, it was portable systems that experienced the more pronounced growth. Portable game sales were up 28 percent to $185 million, compared with home console game sales' 11 percent bump to $618 million.

Sales for PS3 and Wii games would no doubt have been higher if more of the consoles had made their way into gamers' hands. NPD shows 197,000 PS3 systems sold for the month, while the Wii managed to move 476,000 units. The Xbox 360 bested them both, though not by much, sporting sales of 511,000 for the month.

None of the next-gen systems could measure up to the DS, however. Nintendo's newest portable sold 918,000 systems, according to NPD. All tallied up, US retailers sold $771 million worth of gaming hardware last month, 69 percent more than the $456 million moved in November 2005, when the Xbox 360 launched.

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