Gaming Surge Continues in April

by: Seth Gilbert

The debut of Grand Theft Auto IV was one of those rare releases guaranteed to influence sales results; not that the gaming industry needs any help these days. And even with a late in the month debut, even with just a few days to wield influence, that’s exactly what GTA IV did. NPD North American retail numbers were released this week. As has become common, the results were strong.

In total, April saw $1.23b in retail sales, up from $836.6m last year, a 47 percent increase. Month to month, things were a little more measured: April sales showed some seasonal slowdown compared to March. The effect of Easter falling early also likely had some influence. Still, year over year, impressive trends continue. Year to date, the industry is tracking 31% ahead of last year’s record setting pace.

For software, between GTA IV and Nintendo’s (OTCPK:NTDOY) release of Mario Kart, it was a particularly good month. Three titles, based on platform, exceeded a million units sold. GTA IV was faraway the leader. The Xbox 360 version of the game took the month’s pole position. The PS3 version finished 3rd overall. Nintendo’s Mario Kart finished second. Considering GTA IV had only two measured days of sales in the month, publisher Take Two (NASDAQ:TTWO) has to be pleased. Total software sales were $654.7m, a 68 percent year over year gain.

In hardware, the story was more or less the same as always: Nintendo at the top. The Wii and the DS took the top slots overall and within the respective console and portable categories. Sales for Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) PS3 and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 finished virtual tied at fourth and fifth overall, but in exactly the same slots as last month. Surprising some, there didn’t appear to be much software-influenced purchases (e.g., the consoles didn’t appear to benefit from GTA IV). That will probably change when the May results come in. For April, GTA IV only had two days to wield its influence. Also surprising some, portable sales seemed to be slowing.

Overall, the hardware segment was down month to month but still up 26% year over year to $426.2m. Neither Sony nor Microsoft is concerned by any seasonal adjustments. Microsoft pointed out the Xbox 360 had three of April's top ten games and the company is about to cross the $10b threshold. Sony, in turn, is pleased to see that PS3 hardware sales are up 127% year over year and software sales were up 410 percent.

The rest of the data by the numbers:


April Hardware Sales (in units sold) (March Results)
• Wii: 714,000 (721,000)
• Nintendo DS: 415,000 (698,000)
• PlayStation Portable: 193,000 (297,000)
• Xbox 360: 188,000 (262,000)
• PlayStation 3: 187,000 (257,00)
• PlayStation 2: 124,00 (216,000 )

April Software (Title.(Platform.Publisher) (Units)
1. Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360, Take Two) –1,850,000
2. Mario Kart Wii (Wii, Nintendo) – 1,120,000
3. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Take Two) 1,000,000
4. Wii Play w/ Remote¹ (Wii, Nintendo) 360,000
5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii, Nintendo) 326,000
6. Gran Turismo 5: Prologue (PS3, Sony) 224,000
7. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness (DS, Nintendo) 202,000
8. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time (DS,Nintendo) 202,000
9. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii, Activision) 152,000
10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare¹ (360, Activision) 141,000

Overall Industry Totals (Total ( % Change Y/Y)(Last month’s total))
Video Games: $1.7 billion (+47%) ($1.7 billion)
Video Games Hardware: $426.2m (+26%) ($551.3m)
Video Games Software: $654.7m (+68%) ( 945.6m)
Video Game Accessories: $154m (+39%) ( $220m)

For comparative data, NPD’s data from each month for the past year can be found by clicking the names of the month as follows:
2008: •JanuaryFebruary
2007: •February •March •April •May •June •July •August •September •OctoberNovember December