Analyst: Video Game Sales Ended 2010 on a High Note


Thanks to shooter and hot dance titles, such as 'Just Dance 2,' the industry may have seen software sales rise 2% in December.

NEW YORK - December video game sales data, which will be reported Thursday, is set to show another slight monthly industry gain in what observers hope will set the stage for a stronger 2011.

The gaming sector had seen year-over-year sales declines in most months last year. Through November, 2010 game software sales as tracked by research firm NPD Group was down 4 percent at $7.54 billion. Total industry sales were running 5 percent behind 2009.

NPD will report latest figures after the market close on Thursday. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter expects U.S. software sales of $2.63 billion, up 2 percent compared to last year's $2.57 billion, continuing an upward trend begun in October.

"We expect another month of modest sales growth as recent high-profile releases and software sales for Microsoft's Kinect should offset difficult comparisons from last December's music sales ($225 million), Wii Fit Plus ($186 million) and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($156 million)," Pachter predicts in a report. "After a solid October and November, we are hopeful that 2010 will end with sales growth momentum."

Strong sellers will likely include Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Black Ops and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Just Dance 2.

Music games were an area of weakness in 2010, but dance games have been picking up some of the slack, said Ubisoft director of marketing Adam Novickas.

"The dance category is bigger than anyone believed," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is the new music and rhythmn category."

Why is it doing well right now? "It is inherently meant to bring friends and family together," Novickas said. "It is the best invention since the swimming pool to bring people together."

Ubisoft on Tuesday reported that Just Dance 2 has sold more than five million units worldwide since the game was released in October. "That's a phenomenal number," said Pachter, who had predicted sales of at least 2 million fewer units.

In total, the Just Dance franchise (Just Dance, Just Dance 2 and Just Dance Kids) has sold more than 10 million units worldwide since its launch in Nov. 2009. Ubisoft said the brand was the third-best selling franchise worldwide in 2010.

Plus, the company's Michael Jackson The Experience has also sold 2 million units since its late November launch.

“The Just Dance franchise has revitalized the video game music category with consumers worldwide joining the dance movement," said Tony Key, senior vp of sales and marketing at Ubisoft North America.


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