NPD Group's retail video game console and software numbers won't be out until Thursday, but Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter predicts they'll leave us breathing easier after months of declines.
In his monthly pre-NPD game sales preview, Pachter forecasts overall industry sales of $840 million, an increase of 6 percent over last year's $795 million. Compare with last month's dismal 15 percent downturn, when game industry sales slumped from $1.48 billion to $1.26 billion. Calling March an "easier" month for sales comparisons, Pachter says it'll be the first year-over-year upturn since last September. Even then, September 2009's sales increase over the prior year was a trifling one percent, rescued from the red by steep cuts in console prices by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
The big winner in console software sales will be Electronic Arts (Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dragon Age), predicts Pachter, up 71 percent in year-over-year numbers, followed by THQ (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, Metro 2033) and Take Two (BioShock 2, Major League Baseball 2K10). In year-over-year software declines, Pachter pegs Activision Blizzard at -19%, followed by Ubisoft (-16%) and Nintendo (-13%), the latter despite the release of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver mid-month.
In year-over-year console hardware sales, Pachter sees the Wii on top with 540,000 units (-10%), the Xbox 360 with 450,000 (+37%), and the PS3 with 430,000 (+98%).
I'll have NPD's official March 2010 figures for you this Thursday evening.
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