US videogame sales break losing streak: NPD

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The Independent Tech

Industry-tracker NPD reported Monday that US videogame sales showed a "modest increase" in September, breaking a six-month losing streak.

US sales of videogame software and hardware rose to 1.28 billion dollars last month as compared to 1.27 billion dollars in September of 2008, according to NPD.

It was the best September performance for US videogame sales since two years ago, when science-fiction battle title "Halo 3" was released and sold three million copies by the end of the month.

A freshly-released "Halo 3: ODST" title was the top selling game in September, with 1.52 million units bought during the month.

"On a unit sales basis, the industry was flat," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

"The increase in revenues is driven by a rise in average retail prices in all categories with the exception of console hardware, in which the average retail price decreased 8 percent from last September."

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have trimmed prices on their competing videogame consoles, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (PS3), and Wii respectively.

PS3 sales rocketed in September fueled by a fresh price cut, according to NPD.

"Compared to last September, the PS3 was the big winner, more than doubling last year's sales," Frazier said.

"This is the first month that PS3 has captured the top spot in console hardware sales."

Xbox 360 and Wii sales each shot up more than 30 percent in September as compared to August, according to NPD.

Nintendo line of handheld DS videogame players remained the top selling gaming platform for a sixth consecutive month.

A Wii Motion Plus device to enhance the sensitivity of Wii motion-sensing controllers captured the top spot for accessory sales this month, while the console's remote control was the second best-selling item in terms of units.

A "The Beatles: Rock Band" videogame that lets players join the legendary British Rockers on a virtual journey through the group's career debuted in September and sold 254,000 copies by month's end, according to NPD.

"The Beatles: Rock Band" climbed onto the Top Five videogame sales chart for September, despite a "retail price premium of 130 percent to the average retail price for software overall," Frazier said.

"Rock Band" fans need plastic guitars and drum set controllers to play the games.

"The overwhelmingly positive reaction by music fans, hardcore gamers, critics, retailers, young and old alike, has been extremely gratifying," said MTV Games executive vice president Scott Guthrie.

"The game was a labor of love for the teams at Apple Corps, MTV Games and Harmonix, and seeing it resonate across generations the world over is truly priceless."

US sales of videogame hardware and software fell 16 percent in August, the sixth straight monthly decline, according to the NPD Group.

Sales would have to skyrocket in the remaining months of the year just to meet last year's numbers.

US videogame industry sales as of the end of September were 13 percent lower than at the same point last year, according to NPD.

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