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US video games market soars

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The $6bn US video games market grew 18 per cent in unit shipments and 5 per cent in sales value in Q1, compared with the same period last year. But growth was patchy across product lines.

Console sales were up 146 per cent in unit terms year on year and 49 per cent in dollar value, market research firm NPD reports. The market was driven by the increased availabity for Sony Playstation 2 and by the great Sega Dreamcast fire sale. All in all the market looks very promising, what with the launch of Nintendo Game Boy Advance in June, and Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft X-Box launches coming down the line.

But as NPD's Richard Ow points out, it's great games what shift hardware. He is waiting on this year's E3 to see what the software game publishers have in store.

Clearly, things are not going too well for publishers right now. video games units rose just seven per cent in Q1, while the dollar value fell 3 per cent, compared with last year. Bad, but not really bad enough to explain the freefall in online advertising in recent months (so farewell then. Gamecenter, Daily Radar, and a clutch of smaller players).

In the other categories, console accessory shipments climbed 18 per cent, worth 4 per cent more in dollar terms; portable video hardware was up 24 per cent in shipments but down 22 per cent in sales value; portable video software was up 12 per cent in shipments and 14 per cent in sales value; and portable video accessories were up 26 per cent in units and 38 per cent in sales. ®

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