Xbox 360 led January consoles, Black Ops sells 750K - Analyst

Wedbush's Michael Pachter breaks down NPD data, with Microsoft's console coming out on top; Donkey Kong Country Returns sales come in at about 166,500.


Any hope that US game industry retail sales would be rounding a corner at the beginning of 2011 were squashed yesterday with The NPD Group's January recap. Total retail sales, including PC and non-PC games, hardware, and accessories, slipped 5 percent year-over-year to $1.16 billion. Though NPD no longer offers precise software or hardware figures, the firm did say that Call of Duty: Black Ops, released in November, was January's top-selling title.

Call of Duty: Black Ops failed to break 1 million at retail in January.
Call of Duty: Black Ops failed to break 1 million at retail in January.

Today, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter issued a note to investors that provides more color on NPD's report. In terms of console hardware, Pachter pegged the Xbox 360 as the top-selling system in January, echoing Microsoft's announcement of 381,000 units sold. The Wii followed with 319,000 units sold, according to Pachter, with the PlayStation 3 picking up the rear, having sold 267,000 units.

Software also saw declines in January, falling 6 percent to $603.1 million. And though it was the top-selling title, Black Ops was a heavy contributor to that shortfall, Pachter said, as it sold only about half of his 1.5 million-unit prediction (or 750,000 units). Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country Returns also vastly underperformed Pachter's expectations, as the analyst said the game sold just one-third of his 500,000 unit projection (about 166,500 units).

More casual console titles also performed below Pachter's expectations. THQ's uDraw sold "well below our estimate of 300,000 units," Pachter said.

However, it wasn't all bad news. Two companies that exceeded Pachter's expectations were Majesco and Ubisoft. The former was boosted by Zumba Fitness, whose fifth-place finish on NPD's chart amounted to sales of 300,000 units. And while Just Dance 2 only sold about half of Pachter's 1 million-unit expectation, the publisher's sales were still up 63 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

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