NPD: March game sales skyrocket 57 percent

When a professional athlete produces unbelievable statistics, they are sometimes said to be posting "video game numbers." The industry-tracking NPD Group today released its US retail sales figures for the month of March, and the gaming industry itself can safely be characterized as producing "video game numbers."

Overall, the US game industry's total retail take for hardware, software, and accessories amounted to $1.7 billion combined, up 57 percent from the $1.1 billion it posted for March 2007. "You'd never know that the U.S. economy was under distress by looking at the video games industry sales figures," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. "Year-to-date growth is a rock-solid 27 percent through March 2008."

Software sales for the month were up 63 percent year-over-year to $945.6 million. To put that figure in perspective, last March--a month that saw the release of God of War II on the PlayStation 2 and Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360--only managed $957 million with software and hardware sales combined. While catalog titles like Wii Play, Rock Band, and Call of Duty 4 have driven game sales so far this year, March was dominated by new games.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii easily topped the charts with sales of 2.7 million copies. The next-best-selling game was Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, which just reached the 752,000 mark. New releases like Electronic Arts' Army of Two, Take-Two Interactive's MLB 2K8, and the PlayStation Portable debuts of God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII also made the top 10.

While Frazier noted the success of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, emphasizing that it sold to nearly one-third of the Wii installed base in its first month at retail, she said credit for the software sales growth should be distributed widely.

"The amazing year-over-year increase in software sales isn't just explained by a few top games," Frazier said. "As compared to last March, twice as many SKU's achieved sales in excess of 100K units this month."

The explosive growth wasn't limited to software, as sales of hardware also soared 46 percent to $551.3 million. Nintendo earned bragging rights once again as the Wii sold 721,000 units, with the DS not far behind at 698,000 systems. The PSP was the next-best-selling piece of kit, moving 297,000 systems into gamers' hands. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were neck-and-neck with sales of 262,000 and 257,000 respectively, while the PlayStation 2 brought up the rear with 216,000 systems sold.

US VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY - MARCH 2008
Software: $945.6m (+63%)
Hardware: $551.3m (+46%)
Accessories: $220m (+58%)
Total Games: $1.7 billion (+57%)

TOP-SELLING HARDWARE - MARCH 2008
Wii--721,000
Nintendo DS--698,000
PlayStation Portable--297,000
Xbox 360--262,000
PlayStation 3--257,000
PlayStation 2--216,000

TOP-SELLING SOFTWARE - MARCH 2008
Title / Publisher / Release Date / Units
1) Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) / Nintendo / March 2008 / 2.7M
2) Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2* (360) / Ubisoft / March 2008 / 752.3K
3) Army of Two (360) / Electronic Arts / March 2008 / 606.1K
4) Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii) / Nintendo / Feb. 2007 / 409.8K
5) God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP) / Sony / March 2008 / 340.5K
6) Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) / Square Enix / March 2008 / 301.6K
7) Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii) / Activision / Oct. 2007 / 264.1K
8) MLB 2K8 (360) / Take-Two Interactive / March 2008 / 237.1K
9) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare* (360) / Activision / Nov. 2007 / 237K
10) Army of Two (PS3) / Electronic Arts / March 2008 / 224.9K
*Includes Collector's, Limited, Legendary, Bundles (Guitars) Editions


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