In March, video game sales sink 25%

Thursday, April 12th 2012. | Games News

mass effectNot even an intergalactic epic was powerful enough to rescue the video games industry from its sales slump.

March numbers were down 25% compared to the same time last year, raking in $1.1 billion, according to data from NPD Group. It’s the fifth straight month the industry has finished a month on the decline.

“While it was a disappointing month, and first quarter, for new physical retail sales of video games hardware, software and accessories, it wasn’t entirely unexpected given guidance we’ve seen from several sources,” says NPD analyst Anita Frazier in a statement.

Hardware experienced the biggest dip, falling 35% compared to March 2011. The Xbox 360 marked eight straight months as the top-selling device, ending last month with 371,000 consoles sold.

Neither Nintendo nor Sony released sales numbers. With Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld wrapping up two months of availability, the company would only say in a statement sales of hardware, software and accessories have been “impressive.” This follows reports that sales of the device have sunk to new lows in Japan.

Meanwhile, software sales dipped 25% despite the launch of the video game’s industry first big title, BioWare role-playing game Mass Effect 3. It finished as the best-selling game of March.

“Mass Effect 3 sold more than twice as much as did Mass Effect 2 during its introductory month in January 2010,” says Frazier.

And although it was panned by critics, Capcom shooter Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City finished second, followed by PlayStation 3 baseball simulation MLB 12: The Show.

The full top 10:

1. Mass Effect 3 (Electronic Arts)
2. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Capcom)
3. MLB 12: The Show (Sony Computer Entertainment)
4. NBA 2K12 (2K Sports)
5. SSX 2012 (Electronic Arts)
6. Street Fighter X Tekken (Capcom)
7. Mario Party 9 (Nintendo)
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision)
9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja (Namco Bandai)
10. Major League Baseball 2K12 (2K Sports)

Since NPD Group focuses solely on physical software sales, not factored in March’s sales data was the arrival of Rovio’s Angry Birds Space.

As for April, it doesn’t appear this month will do much to jolt the industry out of its rough patch. The most notable game launch is the Xbox 360 title Kinect Star Wars.

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