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Game sales slump continues, down over 30 percent in April

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Kinect Star Wars (LucasArts)

Four months of 2012 are over. And not one of them has held good news for video game publishers.

Total video game sales came to $630.4 million in April, down 32 percent from $930.9 million a year ago. Video game software sales were especially lousy, down an astonishing 42 percent, coming in at just $292 million. Hardware sales were down 32 percent, according to The NPD Group, which tracks the numbers. The numbers are significantly worse than analysts were expecting, more than double the 19 percent drop Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter had warned of.

The problems were multifold. Some of the blame, for instance, rests on the shoulders of the Easter Bunny.

"This year, Easter fell very early in April, which means most Easter-related purchases may have fallen into March this year, whereas last year, Easter fell late in April causing most sales to fall in that month," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "We usually find that Easter-related purchases generate an extra 10 percent in revenue in the month they occur, so some of the softness compared to last April could be attributed to the shift in Easter timing."

In general, though, it was the lack of cool new games that hurt the month.

"I think that the new physical retail content sales reflect a very light release schedule in terms of the amount of compelling new games," said Frazier. "Last April, the top seven titles outsold the top-selling title this year, and, simply stated, there were notably fewer new market introductions."

Free-roaming action romp Prototype 2 led the sales chart, followed by Kinect Star Wars (whose poor reviews should underscore how desperate gamers were for something new), with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 taking third.

The success of Kinect Star Wars helped move Xbox 360s. NPD, which doesn't give specific numbers, noted that the Star Wars bundle (featuring a specially painted 360 and C-3PO gold controller) was a strong seller.

The industry is pinning its hopes on May to turn things around, with big things expected of Max Payne 3 and Diablo III, both due out on May 15..

Here were the month's top selling games:

Rank Title Publisher
1 Prototype 2 Activision Blizzard
2 Kinect Star Wars Lucasarts
3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Activision Blizzard
4 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Electronic Arts
5 NBA 2K12 Take 2 Interactive
6 The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Warner Bros. Interactive
7 Mario Party 9 Nintendo
8 Mass Effect 3 Electronic Arts
9 Just Dance 3 Ubisoft
10 MLB 12: The Show Sony

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