SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. sales of video game hardware and software rose 47 percent from a year earlier, as Take-Two Interactive Software Inc’s “Grand Theft Auto 4” and Nintendo Co Ltd’s Wii console stole the show.
The popularity of “Grand Theft Auto 4,” however, failed to boost sales of Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp’s PlayStation 3, which both saw unit shipments fall sharply from the previous month.
U.S. consumers bought 188,000 Xbox 360s and 187,000 PS3s in April, data from market research firm NPD showed on Thursday. That was down from 262,000 units and 257,000 units in March.
“The Easter shift from April to March this year I think had an impact on sales during the month,” Lazard Capital analyst Colin Sebastian said.
“I know on the hardware side it was a little light but let’s see what a month of ‘GTA’ sales does for those platforms as well as a month without a holiday shift,” Sebastian said.
“Grand Theft Auto 4” launched on April 29 and sold nearly 2.9 million copies in the United States in its first five days, NPD said.
Because the criminal action game can only be played on those two systems, Microsoft and Sony were counting on the title to convince those who hadn’t bought a new gaming system to seize the opportunity.
“It was surprising not to see bigger hardware sales for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 given the release of GTA IV,” NPD analyst Anita Frazier wrote in the report. “However, since the game was only in the market for 5 days during this reporting period, that sales lift could very well be evident in May data.”
Sony said PS3 sales were still up nearly 130 percent from a year earlier, and pointed to upcoming games such as “Metal Gear Solid 4” and “Resistance 2” as ones that would spur sales.
“For us it doesn’t end after GTA ships,” Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America, told Reuters. “We’ve got a great back half of the year.”
Meanwhile, Nintendo’s Wii juggernaut rolled on, selling more than 714,000 units in a sign of unabated demand for the slim white box and its friendly, simpler games.
Gamers bought more than 1.1 million copies of Nintendo’s cartoony racing game “Mario Kart Wii,” which was the No. 2 game in the month.
“It has a broad appeal that brings in a diverse audience,” Cammie Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America, told Reuters, referring to the game.
Sony’s “Gran Turismo 5 Prologue” racing game was the No. 6 game, selling 224,000 copies. Other top games included Nintendo’s “Wii Play” and “Super Smash Bros Brawl”, Activision Inc’s “Guitar Hero 3” for the Wii and “Call of Duty 4” for the Xbox.
Editing by Gary Hill and Braden Reddall