The US videogame industry took in about $155 billion dollars last year in a performance on par with that of 2009, the research firm NPD Group estimated Thursday.



Sales of videogame hardware and software had lagged through the year, with strong showings in December providing hope for a return to boom times like those seen before the global financial meltdown.

"It was a robust finish to a year marked by innovation and engaging millions of consumers through a multitude of delivery models," said Michael Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association trade group.

"I look forward to a strong 2011 with a great pipeline of titles."

Many of those new titles are expected to debut at an international Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles later this year.

NPD's preliminary estimate of spending on videogames was from $15.4 billion to $15.6 billion and factored in used games, downloaded content, and money spent on social network play as well as real-world store sales.

"The dynamics of games content purchasing changed dramatically in 2010 with options ranging from the physical product to digital downloads on connected devices as well as in-store digital kiosks," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

"We should expect 2011 to be a growth year in the games industry as the consumer demand for gaming continues to evolve."

Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game consoles were the only platform to sell more hardware in 2010 than in the previous year, according to NPD.

"This has been the biggest holiday and the biggest year ever for Xbox," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said during a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Ballmer boasted that Microsoft sold more than eight million gesture-sensing Kinect controllers for Xbox 360 video game consoles in the 60 days after it hit the market in November.

Kinect lets people control on-screen action with body movements or spoken commands and is priced at 150 dollars.

The best-selling game for December as well as for all of 2010 was shooter title "Call of Duty: Black Ops," which fans buying more than 12 million copies since it was released in November.

Nintendo claimed victory when it came to video game consoles and handheld device sales, selling 8.5 million DS devices and 7 million Wii consoles in the year.

"Nintendo has sold more game systems than anyone else for five years running," said Nintendo of America senior director of corporate communications Charlie Scibetta.

"Of the quarter billion hardware systems sold in the United States during the past 10 years, Nintendo sold more than half."