Videogame sales up 18 percent in October

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. sales of videogame hardware and software rose 18 percent in October from a year earlier, after falling 7 percent in September, as Nintendo Co Ltd’s Wii console sold over 800,000 units, market researcher NPD reported on Thursday.

Nintendo Co's Wii game console is displayed at an electronic shop in Tokyo's Akihabara district in this January 24, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Video machine makers said the results boded well for the holiday season.

The Wii console secured its title once more as the country’s best-selling videogame console after Nintendo sold 803,210 units of the Wii in October, up from 687,000 in the previous month. Wii sales have topped 13 million units since Nintendo released the console in November 2006.

Cammie Dunway, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America, told Reuters that sales showed consumers would continue to buy the Wii during the holidays.

U.S. consumers bought 371,000 of Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360 console in October, up from 347,200 units in the prior month. Microsoft cut the U.S. price of its entry-level console in September to $50 below the Wii.

The price cut helped spike a 7 percent increase in Xbox 360 unit sales from September, according to NPD Analyst Anita Frazier.

“We feel cautiously optimistic (going into the holidays), we don’t see anything in this (NPD) data that leads us to believe there’s a pullback,” said Microsoft spokesman David Dennis.

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Dennis said the release of the Microsoft-produced “Fable II” and Bethesda Networks’ “Fallout 3,” which ranked as the first and third best-selling games in October, helped increase the Xbox 360’s consumer attach rate. Xbox sales will get an even greater boost in December by “Gears of War 2” sales, as the game has already sold over 2 million copies since its release on November 7, Dennis added.

Sales of Sony Corp’s PlayStation 3 dropped 18.2 percent from the prior month, from 232,400 units sold in September to 190,000 units sold in October. Still, “PS3 sales realized the greatest year-over-year monthly unit sales increase at 57 percent,” Frazier said.

The videogames industry is set to top $22 billion in 2008, according to NPD. U.S. sales of videogames hardware, software and accessories totaled $1.35 billion in October, with accessories sales falling 8 percent.

Accessories sales are expected to pick up next month because of the anticipated increase in hardware sales during the holidays, Frazier said.

Although Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony all reported strong console sales, NPD noted the portable side of the videogame market declined 14 percent. Sales of Sony’s PSP handheld device dipped from 238,100 in October to 193,000 September, while Nintendo’s DS sales dropped from 536,800 to 491,000.

Microsoft’s “Fable II” game took the lead on the top ten best-selling videogames in October, selling 790,000 copies. Nintendo’s “Wii Fit,” “Wii Mario Kart” and “Wii Play” placed in second, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Sony released its anticipated “Little Big Planet” only five days before the end of October, but the game managed to come in eighth on the month’s list of best-selling games after it sold 215,000 units.

Noticeably, Nintendo’s “Wii Music” and Activision Blizzard’s fourth version of “Guitar Hero,” which were both released in the second half of October, were absent from the list.

Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Bernard Orr