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US computer games sales fell five per cent in 2000, as many serious gamers delayed purchases in anticipation of fresh blood flowing into the console market this year.

Sales were $6.5 billion last year, down from $6.9 billion in 1999, according to Washington, NY research firm NPD TRSTS. Unit sales rose one per cent for the year to 191.4 million, compared to 188.6 million in 1999.

The top four selling games were all Poké titles from Nintendo - Poké Silver, Poké Gold, Poké Yellow and Poké Stadium. At number five was Electronic Art's The Sims.

Console software dollar sales dropped four per cent, while hardware rose 20 per cent. Portable video games sales were up 26 per cent in dollar terms and 28 per cent in unit terms.

NPD Interactive Entertainment account manager Richard Ow described 2000 as a transitional year. "The bear stock market and low consumer confidence also contributed to a slow year in over retail sales," he said.

"The Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64 systems are entering their sixth and fifth years, respectively, in the US market. While both systems have already reached their peak in hardware sales, their software continues to sell."

Games sales are expected to show healthier growth this year thanks to the long-awaited launch of new consoles such as Microsoft's X-box, Nintendo's Game Cube and portable Game Boy Advance. ®

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