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Grand Theft Auto V leads video game industry to terrific September sales

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(Credit: Rockstar Games)

Crime pays -- and it pays well.

The extraordinarily strong sales of Grand Theft Auto V drove the video game industry to a spectacular September. According to The NPD Group, combined physical sales of hardware and software were up 27 per cent, with $1.07 billion in revenue versus $848 million last year. Software sales, the most closely watched figure, were up a stunning 52 percent from a year ago to $754.3 million. That number does not include digital sales through services like Steam.

Though the software sales are indeed impressive, the figures are nowhere near as high as analysts were hoping to see. Wedbush's Michael Pachter had forecast sales of $910 million.

The shortfall in hitting expectations could be Madden's fault. EA's annual blockbuster hasn't been selling as well this year, as gamers seem to be waiting for the next-generation version to hit shelves before deciding whether to buy a copy.

Luckily, GTA V was there to more than make up for it. While NPD doesn't reveal specific sales numbers publicly, Take-Two announced worldwide retail sales of over $800 million for the game's first day of release and over $1 billion for the first three days. Both of those were entertainment industry records.

Hardware sales continues to slump as gamers wait for new systems to hit stores in November. Sales of video game hardware were down 13 percent to $183.2 million, with Nintendo's 3DS once again leading the pack overall. The Wii U also saw a big boost following its mid-September price cut. Nintendo says sales of its flagship hardware increased by more than 200 percent over the August numbers.

This is the second consecutive month and third month this year that sales have been above the 2012 numbers. Pachter notes that we could see another positive month in October if GTA V sales continue to be strong and Battlefield 4 doesn't prove to be a disappointment at retail. There is some risk of that, though, since core players may wait for next-generation versions of this game, too.

Here's a look at the month's top selling titles.

Rank Title Publisher
1 Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 Interactive
2 Madden NFL 25 Electronic Arts
3 NBA 2K14 Take 2 Interactive
4 Diablo III Activision Blizzard
5 FIFA 14 Electronic Arts
6 Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX Square Enix Inc
7 Disney Infinity Disney Interactive Studios
8 NHL 14 Electronic Arts
9 Minecraft Microsoft
10 Saints Row IV Deep Silver

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