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15% climb in physical sales keeps US industry flat

Hardware, peripherals drop but boxed games compensate

A year-on-year shrinkage of 0.5 per cent in the US video game market for the month of November has been reported by NPD, with a contraction of hardware and peripheral sales offset by a 15 per cent rise in physical media.

Hardware sales were down 9 per cent since last year, according to the report, with November's total dropping from $1.08 billion to $982.4 million since last year. Peripheral sales dropped massively year-on-year, a 34 per cent shrinkage probably largely explained by last November's launch of Kinect.

PS3 and 360 sales were strong for the period, with Battlefield 3, Assassin's Creed and Just Dance 3 contributing strongly to a field inevitably lead by Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim. According to the report, PC boxed sales rose by an incredible 57 per cent.

Across all formats, Modern Warfare sold 8.99 million units, leaving plenty of clear ground between itself and second-best selling Skyrim, which totalled 2.8 million sales for the month.

Sales of software for the Wii continued to decline, shrinking by 28 per cent in line with recent months. Handheld sales almost reversed their trend of shrinkage, dropping by 1 per cent instead of the 20 per cent recent trend, thanks to a strong showing from the newly discounted 3DS.

Analysts at Cowen Research predicted a small drop in overall business for December from last year, thanks to the season's traditional reliance on Wii sales and a strong month in 2010.

"We expect a mid-single digit year-on-year decline in sales during December," read a report from the firm.

"[This is] Due in part to a tough comp versus the launch of 'Epic Mickey' last year, and in part because December sales tend to weigh more heavily towards the Wii/handheld platforms, where overall sales trends are worse. However, we believe that sales on the Xbox 360/PS3 platforms will once again be up double digits."

Despite the drop in numbers for the Wii, November's Black Friday period, when American retail traditionally sees a huge boost from Thanksgiving sales, was largely successful for Nintendo, with Zelda Skyward Sword becoming the fastest-selling Zelda game of all time, whilst Super Mario 3D Land was the quickest-selling handheld Mario title ever.

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