US Gaming Market Sees 13% Growth in January

The U.S. market for video game software and hardware registered another month of year-on-year growth in January adding further weight to the theory that the sector is relatively insulated from recession.

The total market was worth US$1.3 billion in January, which is up 13 percent on January 2008, according to data from NPD Group. Software sales accounted for just over half of the market at $677 million, a rise of 10 percent on the year, while hardware sales rose 17 percent to $445 million. The remainder of the market was accounted for by accessory sales.

"At this point in the console lifecycle, we would expect to see a greater percentage of total industry sales generated by software sales, but the continued strength in hardware sales is changing that scenario a bit," the company said in a statement. "This will have a long-term positive impact on the industry as the user base expands."

Nintendo's Wii was again the top console of the month. A total of 679,200 consoles were sold during the month -- more than double that of the Xbox 360 and three times that of the PlayStation 3 -- while "Wii Fit," "Wii Play" and "Mario Kart" were the top three ranked software titles. The games sold a respective 777,000, 415,000 and 292,000 copies in the month.

The second-ranked Xbox 360 saw sales of 309,000 consoles while PlayStation 3 sales were 203,200 units, NPD said.

In the handheld sector, the DS sold 510,800 units easily beating the PlayStation Portable, which saw sales of 172,300 units in January, according to the report.

Among gaming titles, only two new releases made the top ten and the rest were games that had been out since before the beginning of the year. That, added to the healthy sales of hardware, shows how many new gamers are coming into the market at present, said NPD.

"This broadening of the audience for gaming will help buoy the industry through these tough economic times, provided they have enough compelling content to keep them interested," the company said.

Top Ten best-selling games in the U.S. in January were, according to NPD Group:

1) Wii Fit, Wii, 777,000 units

2) Wii Play with remote, Wii, 415,000 units

3) Mario Kart with wheel, Wii, 292,000 units

4) Left 4 Dead, Xbox 360, 243,000 units

5) Call of Duty: World at War, Xbox 360, 235,000 units

6) Skate 2, Xbox 360, 199,000 units

7) Guitar Hero World Tour, Wii, 155,000 units

8) New Super Mario Bros., DS, 135,000 units

9) Mario Kart DS, DS, 132,000 units

10) Lord of the Rings: Conquest, PlayStation 3, 113,000 units.

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