The video-game industry bounced back in April, with total U.S. game sales reaching $961.2 million, a 20 percent increase from the same period last year. Software sales climbed 26 percent, to $503 million from $398.5 million in April 2010, while hardware sales rose 12 percent, to $280 million, from the same period last year. Sales of video-game accessories were up 20 percent, compared with April 2010, totaling $147.6 million, according to a report released by The NPD Group.
Hardware sales realized the least growth at the category level. Unit sales were up 3 percent, with the greater dollar sales growth being driven by an increase in the average retail price. The Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PSP portable console and the Microsoft Xbox 360 console saw an increase in unit sales from April 2010. The Xbox 360 platform was the best selling of the month in terms of unit sales, followed by the Nintendo DS portable console.
The report noted April marks the third consecutive month of year-over-year increases in dollar sales for the hardware category. For software, April 2011 represented the first month that new physical retail sales of content showed growth in both units and dollars since November of last year. The Xbox 360 platform generated the greatest unit sales of new physical content at over 3.5 million units for the month, followed by the Nintendo DS platform. The Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 platforms all generated greater unit sales of content versus April 2010, the report said.
The best-selling game of the month was Mortal Kombat 2011, which sold just under 900,000 units in its first month at retail. Portal 2 was the second-best-selling game in April. According to NPD's PC digital download report, the original Portal was the fifth most downloaded game in 2010, and was available for free when Steam launched on the Mac. The report noted Portal's performance on the PC, coupled with the success of the Orange Box on consoles, "undoubtedly" helped prime the fan base for Portal 2.
"New physical retail sales of hardware, software and accessories showed notable growth in April, versus last year. A 17 percent increase in unit sales translated into over 20 percent dollar growth due to higher average retail prices," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "Sales occurring in April resulted in 2 percent year-to-date dollar growth for new physical sales, reversing the negative trend up until March. All three categories experienced double-digit dollar growth compared to April 2010."
Frazier said Easter purchasing occurred in April this year as opposed to March last year, and the Easter timing shift could explain about $60 million of the growth, but even accounting for that shift, sales of new physical product realized a notable increase versus last year.
The company noted the analysis as well as the data in the report pertains only to new physical retail sales of games, hardware and accessories and not digital format sales or other methods of industry monetization such as advertising. In 2010, new physical sales of hardware, software and accessories comprised 77 percent of the consumer spend on the industry, and if looking at content sales specifically, new physical retail sales represented 63 percent of the consumer spend on games content, the report noted.