April video game sales decline 17 percent

May 15, 2009 By BARBARA ORTUTAY , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Lacking the big hits that made the year-ago period a standout, U.S. video game sales dropped sharply in April for the second month in a row as customers continued to watch their wallets.

Market researcher NPD group said late Thursday that retail sales of software, hardware and accessories dropped 17 percent last month, to $1.03 billion. Software sales plunged 23 percent to $510.7 million, more than many analysts had expected. Hardware sales, meanwhile, declined 8 percent to $391.6 million.

While the results show the gaming industry is not immune to the recession, a big culprit for the year-over-year decline was last year's launch of the blockbuster "Grand Theft Auto IV." The game hit store shelves on April 29, 2008 and raked in more than $500 million within a week. That and the launch of Nintendo's "Mario Kart Wii," another very popular game, made for a spring that game makers have not been able to match this year.

The handheld Nintendo DS was the month's best selling gaming system, which was not a surprise considering the recent launch of the DSi, its latest incarnation.

In all, Americans bought more than 1 million DS systems in April. Of these, Nintendo said about 800,000 were sales of the new DSi, a slimmer, more interactive version of the system that includes two digital cameras.

Nintendo's Wii console came in a distant second, selling 340,000 units. The company estimates it holds about a 70 percent unit share of the U.S. gaming hardware market.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.'s sold 175,000 units, not many more than the 9-year-old PlayStation 2 from Sony Corp. To appeal to more budget-conscious customers, on April 1 Sony cut the price of the PS2 to $99.99 from $129.99.

"This is a testament to the impact a price reduction can have on hardware acquisition, with price being only second to compelling new content as a catalyst for hardware sales," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

Many PlayStation fans, however, are hoping Sony will cut the price of the more expensive PlayStation 3. That system sold just 127,000 units in April. Earlier Thursday, Sony posted its first annual net loss in 14 years and reported an ongoing loss in its game segment.

Whizzing past its competition in hardware sales, Nintendo also dominated April's software sales. Four of the month's top-selling games were made by the Kyoto, Japan-based company - including "Wii Fit," "Pokemon Platinum Version" and "Mario Kart" for the , which has been on store shelves for more than a year.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: March video game sales slump more than expected

Related Stories

March video game sales slump more than expected

April 17, 2009

(AP) -- U.S. video game sales slumped more than expected in March and were flat in the first quarter when compared with a year earlier - hurt by the recession, a shift in the Easter calendar and fewer big game launches.

Video game industry bucks downturn with Feb. sales

March 19, 2009

(AP) -- The video game industry continued to defy the recession in February, posting double-digit year-over-year growth with Nintendo Co.'s popular Wii gaming system leading the way.

Global sales of Nintendo's Wii top 50 million

March 26, 2009

(AP) -- Japanese game maker Nintendo Co. said Thursday global sales of its popular Wii video game console have topped 50 million since it went on sale worldwide in late 2006.

Sony PS3 tops Nintendo Wii in Japan in March: survey

April 7, 2009

Sony has been given a vital boost in the battle for the multibillion-dollar video game industry, with a survey showing its PlayStation 3 outsold Nintendo's Wii in Japan for the first time in 16 months.

Nintendo not planning price cuts for hit machines

April 9, 2009

(AP) -- Nintendo has weathered the global recession because of the popularity of its game machines and won't be resorting to price cuts to boost sales, the company's president said Thursday.

Nintendo's annual profit rises 8.5 percent

May 7, 2009

(AP) -- Nintendo Co. reported an 8.5 percent rise in annual profit as the video game maker shrugged off the global slowdown that has battered other Japanese manufacturers.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.