Video game sales drop sharply in US

Prototype 2 screenshot Prototype 2 was a top-selling game in the US in April

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Sales of video games in the US have shown a sharp drop in early 2012, figures suggest.

Gamers spent 42% less on video games in April compared to the same period last year, said market research firm NPD.

The entire market, which includes sales of both consoles and games, was down 32% overall in April, the figures indicate.

Analysts blamed some of the decline on the lack of compelling games being launched in the opening months of 2012.

Figures gathered by NPD show that in April US gamers spent a total of $630m (£391m) on their hobby, a figure 32% lower than in April 2011. Of that total, about $307m (£190m) was spent on games to play on consoles and handhelds, much lower than the $533m spent in the preceding April.

Anita Frazier, video game market analyst at NPD, said some of the decline could be put down to Easter falling in March rather than April.

"We usually find that Easter-related purchases generate an extra 10 per cent in revenue in the month they occur," she said, "so some of the softness compared to last April could be attributed to the shift in Easter timing."

However, she said, what also contributed to the decline was the "very light release schedule" by game makers in the early part of this year.

"I think it's as simple as that because when we see compelling content come into the market, the games are still selling as well as ever," she said. "We just saw a lot less this April as compared to last."

In April 2011, the top seven best-selling games outsold the top seller in April 2012, she said. Top-selling titles this April included Prototype 2, Kinect Star Wars and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

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