Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

A blockbuster month: video game sales rise 20 percent in April

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Video game sales rose 20 percent in April as a series of big titles finally pumped some life into the core console game business.

It was the biggest monthly year-over-year increase in a long time. The industry can thank sales of blockbusters such as Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 (pictured), as well as strong sales of Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing system and Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld device.

The sales figures are closely watched because they’re a good measure of the health of the multibillion-dollar industry. These figures suggest that core games are finally coming back after the recession and free games took their toll.

Total physical channel sales — games sold at stores for consoles, PCs and handhelds — grew 20 percent to $961.2 million from $802.4 million a year ago, according to market researcher NPD. The figures are strong despite 10 days of an outage for the PlayStation Network, which may have put a damper on Sony PlayStation 3 game sales during the month.

The overall video game sector, with accessories included but not PC games, grew 21 percent to $930.7 million, up from $771.5 million a year ago. Hardware sales were $279.9 million, up 12 percent from $249.5 million a year earlier. Console and portable game sales were $503.2 million, up 26 percent from $398.5 million a year earlier. Accessory sales were $147.6 million, up 20 percent from $123.5 million a year earlier. Console, portable and PC game sales were $533.6 million, up 24 percent from $429.4 million a year ago.

The sales are a welcome relief for game publishers after a relatively weak March. In March, despite the launch of  Nintendo’s new handheld 3DS, sales were down 4 percent to $1.53 billion.

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