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NPD: February Video Game Sales Plummet 27%

14 Mar, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sales of console video games worse than an analyst’s projected 18% decline

Sales of console video games in February reached $352 million, down 27% from $484 million in sales during the previous-year period, according new data from The NPD Group. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter had predicted console video game sales of $395 million.

The NPD said February console software sales were led by EA new releases Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3, Konami’s Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as well as Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Other top performers included Nintendo’s Fire Emblem: Awakening, Take-Two’s NBA 2K13, and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 and Just Dance 4.

“Though there was the same number of February launches that landed in the top ten ranking this year as there were last February, collectively, February 2013 new launches performed worse than last year with unit sales down 30%,” said NPD Group industry analyst Liam Callahan.

Hardware sales dropped 36% to $244.2 million as consumers await new gaming systems from PlayStation and Xbox later this year. Game accessories dipped 3% to $214 million. Total new game sales in February fell 25% to $810 million.

“These sales figures … account for roughly 50% of the total consumer spend on games,” Callahan said.

He said cited preliminary estimates for used and physical rentals at $90 million, while estimates for digital, including micro-transactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and social networks reached $319 million.

“We would estimate the total consumer spend on video games in February to be just under $1.2 billion,” Callahan said.

Analyst Pachter does expect sales growth in March, when two big titles (Microsoft’s Gears of War: Judgment and Take-Two’s BioShock Infinite) launch.

“If next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft launch in October or November, we expect investors to look past potential holiday sales weakness, and believe publisher shares will continue to appreciate,” Pachter wrote in a March 11 note.

Callahan said it would be “interesting to watch” how the evolution of physical games delivering digital content via connected consoles evolves with the launch of Disney Infinity.

Indeed, Disney March 13 said rollout of the video game and toy initiative had been pushed been pushed back to late August.

Meanwhile, Pachter said February hardware sales were led by Nintendo’s four-month-old Wii U, which sold 80,000 units (up 41% from January); the Wii, which sold units (down 65% year-over-year); 225,000 Xbox 360 units (down 47% year-over-year); 165,000 PS3 units (down 53% year-over-year); 55,000 DS units (down 59% year-over-year); 115,000 3DS units (down 56% year-over-year); and 30,000 PS Vita units (down 87% year-over-year from its debut month).

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