Saturday, June 14, 2008

GTA IV leads surge in US video game sales for May

NPD reports that US video game sales were up 37 percent over last year, with Take-Two's blockbuster title leading the charge.

While Grand Theft Auto IV sold a combined 1.31 million units for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it appears at least for the time being not to be translating into higher hardware sales as Sony and Microsoft had initially hoped.

Some 871,000 of those copies were for the Xbox 360, outselling the PS3 version by nearly two to one. However, that success did not translate into strong sales for Microsoft -- it trailed Sony in console sales during the month by about 22,000, and the only console to report increasing sales month-to-month.

There's growing concern that the momentum behind the Xbox 360 may be fading quickly -- and Microsoft seems to be cognizant of that fact. Although it may not be directly related, the division that oversees the Xbox franchise saw a reshuffling Thursday.

Marketing chief Jeff Bell will leave the company this summer, with a replacement yet to be announced. Shane Kim, currently the head of Microsoft Game Studios, would assume the newly created position of vice president of strategy of business development.

Kim will be tasked with finding new growth opportunities for the Xbox franchise globally, something it obviously needs in light of weaker console sales. Phil Spencer, head of the European wing of its Game Studios business, will assume Kim's former position.

Nintendo's Wii continued its impressive sales dominance, churning out 675,000 units. The PS3 came in second with 209,000 units, and the Xbox 360 last with 187,000 sold.

With these most recent numbers, the Wii and Xbox 360 are now basically on par here in the US. Both have sold about 10.2 million consoles overall here.

Nintendo's dominance is also producing results among the best selling games. Five of the top ten titles were for the Wii, with two DS titles taking the ninth and tenth place spots.

The top five were: GTA IV for Xbox with 871,300 units; Mario Kart Wii with 787,400 units; Wii Fit with 687,000 units; GTA IV for the PS3 with 442,900 units; and Wii Play with 294,600 units sold.

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