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US physical game sales hit lowest since October 2006

Physical sales decline 14 per cent in May to $743.1 million, LA Noire tops software charts

US boxed video game sales in May 2011 totalled $743.1 million, a 14 per cent decline on the same period in 2010 and the lowest since October 2006.

That's according to data released by the NPD Group, which reported that software sales were down 19 per cent to $375.8 million and hardware down 5 per cent to $228.9 million. Accessories was also down 6 per cent to $114 million.

"Keeping in mind that these sales figures represent just the new physical portion of the market for video game hardware, software, and accessories and not the growing portion of the industry that is comprised of digital format content distribution, May 2011 was the lowest month of sales for the industry since October 2006," said the company. "A light slate of new releases is at the heart of this month's performance."

Sales of the PlayStation 3, PSP and Xbox 360 were all up over May 2010, with 360 seeing the highest increase.

NPD noted that "sales of the 3DS were light, but with next Sunday's release of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, we will begin to see a slate of strong content come to market for the 3DS, which should help to significantly boost sales of hardware during the remainder of 2011."

"Combined sales of the PS3 and Xbox 360 (HD hardware) are up 28 per cent for the month and 21 per cent year to date. Although the declines in console hardware sales in 2011 are attributable to the Wii, the platform remains the best-selling of this generation at nearly 36 million installed in the US."

NPD suggested that at the current rate of growth and decline, the Wii will still maintain the lead in the console space, although the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 will have closed the gap. "Of course, new details on hardware introduction could certainly change the picture," added the company.

During May there were 42 new software SKUs released compared to 58 last year and 72 for May 2009.

"Keep in mind that purchases of content are increasingly occurring in digital format, and May saw a notable digital release in the second map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops which was titled Escalation. Undoubtedly, this shifted some dollars that might have been spent on new physical content at retail," noted NPD.

The biggest release of the month was Team Bondi's L.A. Noire, followed by Brink, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat.

The top ten best sellers for May follow:

  • 01 L.A. Noire (360, PS3)
  • 02 Brink (360, PS3, PC)
  • 03 LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (Wii, 360, DS, 3DS, PS3, PSP, PC)
  • 04 Portal 2 (360, PS3, PC)
  • 05 Mortal Kombat (PS3, 360)
  • 06 Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC)
  • 07 Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Wii, 360, PS3)
  • 08 NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, PC)
  • 09 Just Dance 2 (Wii)
  • 10 LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, DS, 360, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC)

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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