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NPD January: 34% YOY decrease; MW3, Xbox 360 top

The NPD Group's January 2012 report on US retail shows a marked depression over past years' results.

Combined software, hardware and accessory sales dropped from $1.14 billion in January 2011 to $750.6 million, a 34% decrease.

Software sales amounted to $355.9 million with hardware coming in at $199.5 million, each representing a 38% year-on-year decrease. Accessories dropped 18% to $195.2 million.

NPD analyst Liam Callahan noted that the NPD's figures cover only traditional retail channels, and noted a probable consumer spend of $350 million to $450 million on digital and online channels.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said January 2012's sales are lower than those of January 2004.

Callahan said the percentage of sales accounted for by new releases dropped a startling 99%.

"Games like Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2, and DC Universe Online ranked within the top ten last year, making for a poor comparison in January '12 where there were no major releases," he said.

"As shoppers were not drawn to stores due to new launch activity, this potentially impacted additional software purchases made on impulse."

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took the number one position for the third consecutive month since it's launch. Activision's successes didn't end there - surprise mega-hit Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures continued to sell through the post-holiday lull, taking the eighth spot.

Shooter rival Battlefield 3 also maintained sales, coming in fifth, but it was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which proved the strongest rival to Modern Warfare 3's crown, in second place.

3DS was under-represented, with just one exclusive entry, but beleaguered publisher THQ will be happy to see Saints Row: The Third proving a reliable meal-ticket.

The top ten best-selling games across all platforms are listed below.

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Wii, X360)
  2. Just Dance 3 (Wii, X360)
  3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, PS3, X360)
  4. NBA 2K12 (PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, X360)
  5. Battlefield 3 (PC, PS3, X360)
  6. Madden NFL 12 (PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, X360)
  7. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
  8. Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures (3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, X360)
  9. Zumba Fitness 2: Party Yourself (Wii)
  10. Saints Row: The Third (PC, PS3, X360)

Platform Wars

Microsoft revealed that Xbox 360 shifted 270,000 units during January, a 29% decrease on December. The company claimed to hold a 49% market share on hardware sales, putting combined PS3, Wii and 3DS sales at around 280,000 - a significant drop on last year's hardware sales, despite the addition of a new handheld.

January is the Xbox 360's 13th consecutive month as the best-selling console in the US during January.

"Historically, after several years in the console lifecycle there is a softening of demand, but Xbox 360 continues to defy that convention. Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the lifecycle of the console by re-imagining entertainment and delivering new technologies like Kinect for Xbox 360, a new Xbox dashboard, and new entertainment content partners in 2011," the company said in a statement.

Microsoft claims a platform total retail spend of $301 million - the 11th consecutive month the Xbox 360 has out-performed all comers.

"In 2012, Xbox 360 will again launch blockbuster games, including additions to the famed Halo and Fable franchises. The more than 50 Xbox LIVE entertainment partners will continue to expand with many more launching this year. Xbox 360 will also launch entirely new ways to interact with favorite television shows with groundbreaking experiences like Kinect Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV, forever changing the way people interact with entertainment," the company said in closing.

Sony didn't have much to boast of this month, but it did out-perform its own expectations.

"Following a strong December at retail, PlayStation continued the momentum in January through multi-retailer promotions such as 'Play Days' where we saw a 2x lift over forecast in peripheral sales and solid results for the PlayStation 3," senior corporate communication's director Patrick Seybold said.

"February will be a landmark month for PlayStation and the gaming industry with the launch of PlayStation Vita on February 22. Pre-order sales for PS Vita and the launch lineup of 25 titles continue to accelerate as more consumers seek the ultimate in handheld gameplay."

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