Sales of video game software declined 23 percent in April from the same period in 2008, while video game hardware sales declined around 8 percent, according to research company NPD Group.
Even though those numbers indicate that players are setting aside their Wii controllers and letting their "Rock Band" instruments gather dust in order to battle the real-life monsters of a global recession, NPD Group analysts said they feel that the data isn't entirely negative.
"While April sales might appear soft on the surface, it's important to remember that April is being compared against a month [April 2008] that realized nearly 50 percent growth over April 2007," Anita Frazier, an analyst with the NPD Group, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. "This year's performance still represents the second-best performance for the industry in the month of April, besting April 2007, which is the previous second-place holder, by 26 percent."
Another bright spot was the release of the portable video game unit, the Nintendo DSi, which contributed about 31 percent of the total industry unit sales across all categories for April. The lowering of the price point for the Sony PlayStation 2, another hardware system, led to a doubling in its sales rate when compared with March 2009.
"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," Frazier wrote. "It is important to remember that last April, Wii sales were fueled by two huge new titles: 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' and 'Mario Kart.'"
In April 2008, the blockbuster release of "Grand Theft Auto IV" also set a high bar for subsequent sales comparisons.