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NPD February: Dead Space 3, Xbox 360 top charts

While traditional retail sales continued their downwards trend, the NPD Group's February report showed the Xbox 360 still triumphant on its home ground, and a handful of new releases interrupting the Q1 quiet.

The NPD's retail report covers new physical retail only, leaving out online retailers, used games, digital purchases, microtransactions, and mobile, so it's best not to get too glum about the fact that February 2013 saw a 27% year-on-year drop in total industry sales to $810 million.

A quarter of February 2012's sales is a pretty huge drop, but it's fairly safe to say a significant proportion of that spend is making its way to the industry through non traditional channels, and the NPD went so far as to estimate that its retail report represents only 50% off total spend. February is a short month, too.

Of the total spend, software sales account for $369.9 million, a 27% drop, while hardware was $244.2 million, a 36% decline, and accessories brought in $213.9 million, a 3% slump. Accessories will likely pick up next time we see a toys-to-life release, though.

Microsoft wrote to advise that it has Won America yet again; it's the 16th consecutive month of dominance for the Xbox 360 at US retail. The console shifted 302,000 units last month and boasted the highest platform spend (again).

We're yet to hear from Sony, and Nintendo only wanted to talk about software.

The NPD's Liam Callahan said that all hardware sales began tracking upwards moving from January to February, which is very good news, and that the Wii U and Vita are on the upswing a little.

"New platforms like the Wii U and PS Vita demonstrated some momentum from the typical January hardware lull with increases of over 40% and 30%, respectively," he said.

In terms of platform performance, the Xbox 360 was the most strongly-represented in the software charts, but it's worth noting that a Sony exclusive charted for the first time in ages, and that six of the top ten games are also available on PC.

The 3DS was the only platform without a charting title.

A number of new releases sprinkle the top ten chart this month, but none of them proved as heavy-hitting as last year's.

"Though there was the same number of February launches in the top ten ranking as last February, collectively, February launches performed worse than last year with unit sales down 30%," Callahan said.

It's worth noting that Dead Space 3 knocked Black Ops 2 off poll position, which it has held since launch.

Nintendo got in touch to share some good news; although it didn't chart, Fire Emblem: Awakening shifted 180,000 units - pretty good for a strategy RPG in a franchise best known in the west for appearing in Smash Bros. Of these sales, just 117,000 were logged at retail, with more than 63,000 made through the 3DS eShop - which the NPD does not track in this report.

Although it doesn't appear in the charts, Callahan took note of Activision's Skylanders franchise.

"When combining the dollar value of Skylanders software as well as accessories, this property has generated over $600 million in the US since launching in October 2011, and sold $35 million in February alone. It will be interesting to watch how this dynamic of physical goods delivering digital content evolves with the launch of Disney Infinity later this year."

It sure will. Here's the top ten software chart in full:

    February 2013 top 10 games (new physical retail only, all platforms)
  1. Dead Space 3 (PC, PS3, X360)- 605,000
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Wii U, X360)
  3. Crysis 3 (PC, PS3, X360)- 260,000
  4. NBA 2K13 (PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, X360)
  6. Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC, PS3, X360)
  7. Just Dance 4 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, X360)
  8. Far Cry 3 (PC, PS3, X360)
  9. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, Vita)
  10. Madden NFL 13 (PS3, Vita, Wii, Wii U, X360)

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