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April NPD: DSi Soars While Sales Decline

| 15 May 2009 00:03
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April was another sluggish month for sales in the games business, with a successful DSi launch being the only bright spot in an otherwise disappointing picture.

No April foolin' here: NPD sales for last month show another month of decline for the games slanging business.

Hardware-wise, the DS was the main highlight, breaking a million units sold thanks to the launch of Nintendo's latest version of its handheld moneymaker, the DSi. The PS2 also enjoyed strong sales thanks to its price cut, though that achievement might be undermined by the disappointing performance of the PS3 and PSP. Hardware numbers are as follows:

PlayStation 2 172K
PlayStation 3 127K
PSP 116K
Xbox 360 175K
Wii 340K
Nintendo DS 1.04M

Hardware generated $391.63 million this April, an eight percent drop from April 2008, when sales racked up $426.94 million. The most dramatic year-to-year decline here is for the Wii, which sold 714,200 units last year but only 340,000 this year.

"Overall weakness in hardware sales other than the DS and PS2 platforms is likely to capture a lot of attention this month, particularly year-over-year decline of Wii sales," the NPD's Anita Frazier said, accounting for that decline with the fact that last April saw the release of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros Brawl.

Last April was undoubtedly full of heavy hitters, compared to the somewhat paltry offerings of new releases last month. Year-to-year software sales this April dropped 23% to $510.74 million, with sales being dominated by old chart toppers like Wii Fit and New Super Mario Bros. The only new release to crack the top ten was The Godfather II, which sold 155K on the 360 and 91K on PS3.

"April would have been a great month to release a big new game because there weren't a lot of high profile new releases," Frazier said. "In fact, you can see that the top 10 list for the month includes many games we've seen on the list for months, if not years."

Frazier again emphasized the difference between this year and last's releases. In addition to the aforementioned Nintendo titles, there was Grand Theft Auto IV, which "sold nearly 1 million more units last April than the entire top 10 list did this year."

Thinking about it that way, it seems unreasonable to think that this April could possibly stack up to last year. It's not just last month, though. For 2009 on the whole, overall sales are down 4% from 2008 to $5.28 billion.

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