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Plugged In

Nintendo 3DS sells well, but is outshined by older model

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A Solid Start

The launch of the 3DS was a certifiable hit -- but not a grand slam.

According to data released by sales tracking group NPD, the first-week sales of Nintendo's new handheld system beat out the first-week sales of its predecessor, the DS, thanks to a price tag that was $100 higher. Unfortunately, that price tag also might have kept some from buying it: just under 400,000 3DS units were sold in its first week, about 100,000 units short of the original DS when it launched in November of 2004.

The 3DS did motivate shoppers to buy more software than they did at the DS launch, with Capcom's Super Street Fighter IV 3D leading the pack. But that sales achievement was dwarfed by a pair of DS Pokemon titles.

Pokemon White and Pokemon Black were the month's top selling games,
ousting Call of Duty: Black Ops from the #1 spot after a four month run.
Combined, the games set a franchise record, breaking the numbers of
2000's Pokemon Silver and Gold. The popularity of that franchise helped
the DS -- the old one, mind you -- claim the top-selling hardware spot, stealing some of the
spotlight from its newer, flashier successor. (It probably also didn't hurt that the DS was on sale for the entire month, rather than just the last week.)

At any rate, Nintendo had a lot more to be happy about than other publishers.

Overall retail software sales plunged 16 percent in March, twice what some analysts were expecting. A shift in this year's Easter holiday into April and the ongoing slow economic recovery are being blamed for the numbers.

While NPD doesn't currently report digital sales on a monthly basis, the company did address them in a statement this month, noting that although retail sales are down so far for the year, "the trends we've measured with regard to growth in digital formats like full game and add-on downloads, microtransactions, mobile apps and social network gaming will likely result in net industry growth when we release our full measure of the first quarter consumer spend on games in June."

In fact, NPD now estimates that with digital sales included, 2010 was essentially flat compared to 2009 (versus the initial estimate of a 6 percent decline).

Top 10 best-selling games in March 2011, U.S.:

1. Pokemon White Version (DS) - Nintendo
2. Pokemon Black Version (DS) - Nintendo
3. Homefront (360, PS3, PC) - THQ
4. Dragon Age II (360, PS3, PC) - Electronic Arts
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, DS, Wii, PC) - Activision
6. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, 360, DS, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC) - LucasArts
7. Crysis 2 (360, PS3, PC) - Electronic Arts
8. NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
9. MLB 11: The Show (PS3, PSP, PS2) - Sony
10. Fight Night Champion (360, PS3) - Electronic Arts

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