Things were looking up for the video game industry in March. Software sales grew 10 percent to $875.3 million from the same time a year ago, and industry revenues as a whole grew 6 percent to $1.52 billion, according to the market researcher NPD Group. Even accessory sales saw gains, up 11 percent to $206.8 million.
After a a year of slowing sales due to the recession, the news is a sign that things are finally shaping up, especially compared to last month’s numbers. March saw the industry’s first year-on-year increase in a non-holiday month since February 2009, and it was the third best non-holiday month ever for the industry, according to NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
Hardware sales were down 6 percent since last March to $440.5 million, but we can likely blame the majority of that on the fact that overall hardware prices were down 16 percent from a year ago.
Nintendo reclaimed its console sales throne with 575,500 Wii’s sold, trouncing the Xbox 360, which sold 338,400 consoles, and the Playstation 3, which sold 313,900. That’s a major improvement from Nintendo’s 397,000 Wii’s sold last month, a figure many blame on a holiday supply shortage. Like always, the Nintendo DS topped the hardware charts with 700,800 sold. Its portable rival, the PSP, was far behind with 119,900 sold, and Sony’s aging Playstation 2 was at the bottom of the pack with 118,300 units sold.
Sony owned the month in terms of games. God of War III led the top 10 chart with 1.10 million copies sold, and three of the other top 10 slots were filled by games for the Sony platform, accounting for 40 percent of top 10 game revenue for the month. Pokemon SoulSilver took second place, followed by Final Fantasy XIII on the PS3.
Final Fantasy XIII’s Xbox 360 version was number six in the chart, and the chart’s other multiplatform title, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, sold better on the 360 (4th place) compared to the PS3 (8th place). These numbers somewhat prove the stereotypes around certain console gamers — in short, that RPGs are more popular with PS3 owners, and shooters more popular with 360 owners.
Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 didn’t manage to break the top 10 in March, but Frazier reports that it has continued to sell well enough to become the second-best-selling game of all time. Nintendo’s Wii Play is still the most sold game, and unfortunately for Infinity Ward, it won’t be giving up that title very easily.