BioShock 2 Cleans Up, Xbox 360 Overtakes Wii in February Game Sales

Xbox 360, PS3, Wii

Down again overall, with upticks in Xbox 360 and PS3 sales and BioShock 2 ruling the software roost, that's February's US video game narrative in a nutshell courtesy NPD Group's retail industry figures. Overall video game industry sales slumped 15 percent, falling from $1.48 billion to $1.26 billion, raising year-to-date sales to just $2.42 billion, a 14 percent deficit against last year's $2.82 billion for the same period.

Higher price tags mitigated some of the revenue slump. Unit sales declined more than dollar sales, said NPD's Anita Frazier, noting that higher retail prices in all categories save for console hardware helped dollar sales performance.

Overall, the verdict's still fairly gloomy, continuing January's post-holiday downturn.

"Honestly, I had expected the industry to perform somewhat better this month," said Frazier in an email, though adding that "strong new releases" and "Easter gift-buying" should bolster March's sales numbers.

Here's the February 2010 hardware sales breakdown, with growth compared to February 2009.

613k - Nintendo DS (-4%)
422k - Xbox 360 (+8%)
397k - Wii (-47%)
360k - PlayStation 3 (+30%)
133k - PSP (-33%)
102k - PlayStation 2 (-63%)

The two major hardware narratives this month: Big losses for Nintendo's Wii, slight gains for Microsoft and Sony. The Nintendo DS seems indefatigable, probably owing to positive word-of-mouth, brand-perception, a slew of quality games, and pricing. Watch for the "supersized" DSi XL to drive unit sales up again when Nintendo's new handheld goes on sale end of March.

NPD's Frazier noted that the Xbox 360's top-spot grab among the three consoles was its first since Halo 3's release in September 2007. And while Microsoft continues to hold steady in year-over-year sales, Sony's PS3 is making notable comeback gains--gains reportedly constrained by hardware availability issues.

And the February 2010 software sales breakdown.

563k - BioShock 2 (Xbox 360)
556k - New Super Mario Bros. (Wii)
314k - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
275k - Just Dance (Wii)
273k - Sports Resort w/Wii Motion Plus (Wii)
253k - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3)
247k - Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)
243k - Dante's Inferno (PS3)
225k - Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360)
219k - Heavy Rain (PS3)

While sales slots appear unusually balanced his month--I think this may represent the first time in its three-year history that the PS3 holds three--unit as well as dollar performance favored the Xbox 360.

Curiously, the PS3 version of BioShock 2 didn't register in the top 10, with just 187k unit sold compared with 563k for the Xbox 360. Perhaps that's because the original game--released in August 2007--was Xbox 360 exclusive for over a year, and the October 2008 PS3 version only sold roughly a fifth as many copies.

Still in the news with steady sales, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is officially the third bestselling game ever, reports NPD, with nearly 10 million units sold to-date.

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