NPD: US industry sales fall 17 percent

But 2009 sales still on track to match record-breaking 2008

Overall US game industry sales declined 17 percent in March to $1.43 billion, according to research firm the NPD Group.

Software sales fell 17 percent to $792.83 million for the month, while hardware sales dropped 18 percent to $455.55 million.

However, total sales for the first quarter of the year have now reached $4.25 billion, the same total at this point in 2008, which went on to be a record-breaking year for the industry.

"While it might be tempting to jump to the conclusion that the sky is starting to fall on the video games industry given this months results, it's important to remember that two very big things are different this year than last," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "First, Easter fell in March last year whereas it fell in April this year, and last March included the release of Super Smash Bros.: Brawl, which went on to become the fourth best-selling game in 2008.

"You might not think that Easter is that big of a gift-giving holiday, but our consumer data shows that eight percent of industry unit sales were purchased for the Easter occasion in March 2008, accounting for $121M of that months' sales. We expect that most of Easter sales this year fell into the April reporting period and we'll see that reflected in next month's data.

"This is very much like September of last year, which did not compare favourably to September of 2007 as the result of a huge game launch, Halo 3," she added. "Besides March 2008, this month's sales are 31% higher than the previous highest March which was March of 2007, so it was a pretty healthy month for sales, overall."

The results went against analysts' March forecasts, as Wedbush Morgan Securities, EEDAR and Lazard Capital Markets had all predicted flat software sales and hardware sales growth prior to the release of NPD's sales data.

Article supplied by Edge Online