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: Watching others play video games is the new spectator sport

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

March video game sales slump more than expected

Apr 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.

Global sales of Nintendo's Wii top 50 million

Mar 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

Apr 07, 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

Apr 09, 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 07, 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

FIXD tells car drivers via smartphone what is wrong

13 hours ago

A key source of anxiety while driving solo, when even a bothersome back-seat driver's comments would have made you listen: the "check engine" light is on but you do not feel, smell or see anything wrong. ...

Watching others play video games is the new spectator sport

19 hours ago

As the UK's largest gaming festival, Insomnia, wrapped up its latest event on August 25, I watched a short piece of BBC Breakfast news reporting from the festival. The reporter and some of the interviewees appeared baff ...

User comments : 0