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NPD February: Sales down 20%, hardware recovering

Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the major challenger to the perennial Call of Duty in the NPD's February 2012 report, which noted another year-on-year depression in retail sales across the board.

Total US spend on gaming hardware, software and accessories for February was $1.06 billion, a 20% year on year decrease from February 2010's $1.33 billion.

Ruling out hardware sales, the best-performing sector, the situation is even more dire, with total sales dropping by 24% to $485.7 million, compared to 2010's result of $637.4 million.

Despite the popularity of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures, which accounted for three of the top ten chart positions, accessory sales were down 16% year on year to $215.2 million. Of these sales, Skylanders accounted for $17 million, or 7%.

January also resulted in a dip in industry-wide sales figures, and the UK is expected to return a similar result.

Total hardware sales came in at $381.4 million, an 18% year-on-year decrease from 2010's $466.9, but an increase on January's terrible results.

Both the NPD and Microsoft noted that the Xbox 360 topped hardware charts again, its 14th consecutive win. Microsoft revealed it sold 426,000 consoles during February, a 50% increase on January's efforts.

Microsoft said the Xbox 360 has held at least a 40% market share for a whole year now. Total consumer spend across the platform's hardware, software and accessories hit $383 million; 42% of the total February market.

Many other hardware platforms saw sales decreases, but Nintendo boasted that the Wii reached 39 million total sales in February, its 64th month, with a 50% jump to 228,000 sales. 3DS sales were up 53% to 262,000, as were DS sales, leaping by a whopping 76% to 135,000.

The Vita's end-on-month launch meant it only recorded four days of sales during the February track period. NPD analyst Anita Frazier said the portable still had a noticeable effect on hardware sales.

"Overall, hardware unit sales increased by 62 percent over January without the Vita included. Including PS Vita sales, that increase is 87 percent," she said.

Software sales reached $464.4 million, down 23% from the $601.4 million of one year ago.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 topped charts once again. The shooter holds the US record for best-selling game of all time and has held onto the top spot since launch in November. Previous series entry Black Ops remained in the charts right up until Modern Warfare 3's release, so expect it to continue fronting. Final Fantasy XIII-2 took second place thanks to its late January release. Twisted Metal, on sale since February 14, scraped in at ninth position.

Despite the persistant hanging on of older releases, Frazier noted that new releases accounted for more unit sales during February 2012 than February 2011, but a smaller proportion of total sales. Of the top ten best selling games, 78% of sales were new releases, down from the 94% of of February 2011. Kingdoms of Amalur: reckoning was the only brand new IP to launch this month, and managed a respectable fourth place.

Nintendo had something to boast about as February's sales brought Super Mario Galaxy past a 5 million milestone - the fifth Wii game to do so. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 for Nintendo 3DS each sold more than 100,000 units, bringing the life-to-date totals to more than 1.85 million and 1.45 million respectively, and combined lifetime sales for Pokémon Black and White has reached over 4 million.

NPD confirmed that the best-selling Vita game was Uncharted Golden Abyss, but no Vita games breached the top ten.

The tracking period for this month was January 19 to February 25. Full top ten below. Note that the NPD Group has not yet implemented solutions for tracking digital game sales.

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - PS3, 360, Wii, PC - Activision Blizzard
  2. Final Fantasy XIII-2 - PS3, 360 - Square Enix
  3. UFC Undisputed 3 - PS3, 360 - THQ
  4. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PS3, 360, PC - Electronic Arts
  5. Just Dance 3 - PS3, 360, Wii - Ubisoft
  6. NBA 2K12 - PS3, 360, Wii, PC, PSP, PS2 - Take Two
  7. Soul Calibur V - PS3, Xbox 360 - Namco Bandai
  8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PS3, 360, PC - Bethesda Softworks
  9. Twisted Metal - PS3 Sony
  10. Battlefield 3 - PS3, 360, PC - Electronic Arts

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