Video game joy ride ends; December uptick of 4% not enough to counter 8% drop for 2009


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The video game industry eked out a 4% sales gain in the U.S. last month, rising to $5.32 billion as shoppers snapped up nearly 2.8 million copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 published by Activision, according to a report released this afternoon from NPD Group.

For the year, video games, consoles and accessories took in $19.66 billion in retail sales, down 8% from 2008. Throw in $538 million in PC sales, which dropped 23% last year, and the total hits $20.2 billion. That’s down 8.6% from $22.1 billion in 2008, which was a record year for the industry.


December capped a stomach-churning year for the game industry, with eight declining months out of 12. The genre that took the biggest hit last year was music and dancing games, which plunged 46% as players turned away from games with expensive peripherals.

Not even The Beatles: Rock Band, which was unveiled last year with great fanfare, could go against the economic tide. The title sold just $75 million last year, said Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. Combined with $149 million from Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise, the total sales of $224 million is less than half the amount Rock Band and Guitar Hero made in 2008.

‘Thank God this is behind us,’ Pachter said. ‘The momentum is moving in the right direction, particularly as we lap miserable music sales.’

To see the top-selling games for December, click on the continue reading link below.

Top 10 console games in the U.S. in December 2009

1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2.84 million units sold)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2.75 million)
3. Wii Fit Plus (2.4 million)
4. Wii Sports Resort (1.8 million)
5. Madden NFL 10 (1.5 million)
6. Assassin’s Creed II (1.2 million)
7. Mario and Sonic at the Olympics (1 million)
8. Wii Play (1 million)
9. Mario Kart (936,730)
10. Left 4 Dead 2 (728,491)

Source: NPD Group Inc.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.