18/04/2008 12:39 - (SA)
San Francisco - Sales of video game software blew past analysts' expectations for the month of March, while Nintendo saw sales of its already-popular Wii console surge by more than 65% from the previous month.
Sales of video game software jumped to $945.6m, up 63% from the same month last year, according to data released on Thursday from the NPD Group.
Analysts had been expecting a number in the low 40% range for the month. Sales of game hardware jumped 46% to $551.3m, according to the NPD data.
The Wii seemed to benefit from the launch of Super Smash Bros: Brawl, a fighting game exclusive to the console that sold a whopping 2.7 million units during the month in North America. Sales of the Wii console hit 721 000 units in March compared to 432 units the month before.
For the Wii, that was more than the combined sales of the two rival consoles - the Xbox 360 from Microsoft and the PlayStation 3 from Sony Corp.
During March, the Xbox 360 moved 262 000 units - up three percent from the prior month. The PS3's sales fell slightly to 257 000 units from 280 800 units the month before, according to NPD data.
The success of Super Smash made it a double-barrelled month for Nintendo, which is also the publisher of the popular game franchise. The game was the top-selling title for the month, and the company also benefited from continued strong sales of its "Wii Play w/ Remote", a sports game that comes packed with an extra wireless, motion-sensor controller. That game sold more than 409 000 units for the month.
Nintendo also saw strong sales for its handheld DS device, which moved 698 000 units compared to 587 600 units the month before.
The month saw a strong slate of game releases that racked up sales. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas by Ubisoft sold more than 752 000 units since its launch, making it the number two title for the month.
Army of Two from Electronic Arts moved more than 606 000 copies during the month.
Activision had two games in the top ten list. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for the Wii moved about 264 000 units while Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare sold 237 000 units for the month.
The end of April will see the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV; from Take-Two Interactive. The game is expected to be one of the year's top selling titles and is likely to boost sales for the Xbox 360 and PS3.