Pokemon Dominates as Retail Game Sales Drop 4% in March

By James Brightman

The physical retail channel continued to show declines in March, according to the newest NPD report. Total sales dipped 4% to $1.53 billion for the month, as software declined 16% to $735.4 million. Hardware, however, increased 12% to $494.5 million while accessories (driven by the PS3 network card for $20) climbed 13% to $241.3 million. 

While retail has been declining, NPD is confident that the digital side continues to make up for it in the overall games pie. “While new physical sales of video game hardware, software and accessories are down 1% in the first quarter of 2011, the trends we’ve measured with regard to growth in digital formats like full game and add-on downloads, microtransactions, mobile apps and social network gaming will likely result in net industry growth when we release our full measure of the first quarter consumer spend on games in June,” said analyst Anita Frazier. 

As for retail software, Nintendo’s two Pokemon games blew away the competition [Update:Pokemon White sold 1.3 million units and Black sold 1.1 million units]. “Pokemon White is the best-selling Pokemon SKU in its debut month at retail of any Pokemon to date, and the Blackversion is third. Combined they break previous sales records held by Pokemon Silver and Gold in October 2000,” stated Frazier. 

She added, “New physical retail software sales declined significantly, and despite the great success of the Pokemon SKU’s, software sales last year were marked by several marquee titles including Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and God of War 3 which were all million plus unit sellers in March 2010.”

It’s also worth noting that despite some of the negative buzz around THQ’s Homefront, the title was second to the Pokemon games in the top 10.

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