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Video game sales hit three-year low in US

23 per cent tumble

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US video game sales took a 23 per cent tumble in May compared to the previous year, dropping below the $1bn sales mark for the first time since August 2007.

Recession was fingered as the root cause of the slump by the number-crunchers at NPD Group, although there's certainly other variables at play. Total industry sales - including games, hardware and accessories - were $863.3m in May 2009 compared to $1.12bn in 2008.

Breaking that down; console sales were down a sharp 30 per cent at $302.5m, software sales down 17 per cent at $448.9m, and accessories down 25 per cent at $112m.

Economic malaise combined with May typically being a slow month for game biz sales was likely a big factor in revenue dropping below the $1bn threshold for the first time in nearly three years. It's also a difficult month to fairly compare year-over-year.

In May 2008, the Nintendo Wii was still breaking revenue records for the month, taking a slight sales hit largely because Nintendo couldn't supply consoles fast enough. Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360 was also in the number one sales spot for the second consecutive month with 871,300 unit sold after its record breaking debut.

This year, UFC 2009 Undisputed for the Xbox 360 was May's top seller at 679,600 units sold. Combined with the PS3 flavor though, it did top the million unit mark.

NPD's top US games for May 2009, ranked by units:

  1. UFC 2009 Undisputed, Xbox 360: 679,600
  2. Wii Fit w/ Balance Board, Wii: 352,800
  3. EA Sports Active Bundle, Wii: 345,800
  4. UFC 2009 Undisputed, PS3: 334,400
  5. inFamous, PS3: 175,900
  6. Pokemon Platinum Version, Wii: 168,900
  7. Mario Kart w/ wheel, Wii: 158,300
  8. Punch Out!!, Wii: 156,900
  9. X-Men Origins Wolverine Uncaged edition, Xbox 360: 120,700
  10. Wii Play w/ remote, Wii: 109,800

For console sales, Nintendo remains strong yet still saw a drop from the previous month. The portable Nintendo DS console in particular took a sales hit sequentially in May - although April's numbers were inflated with the debut of the DSi hardware.

US game software sales for May 2009, ranked by units:

  1. Nintendo DS+DSi: 633,500 (last month: 827,000)
  2. Nintendo Wii: 289,500 (last month: 340,000)
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360: 175,000 (last month: 175,000)
  4. Sony Playstation 3: 131,000 (last month: 127,000)
  5. Sony Playstation 2: 117,000 (last month: 172,000)
  6. Sony Playstation Portable: 100,400 (last month: 116,000)

NPD analyst Anita Frazier notes June 2009 may be looking up with the release of good number of games based on established franchises like Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Nintendo will also release its Wii MotionPlus peripheral in June, which promises more accurate motion control from the Wii remote. ®

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