Vidgame biz racks up points in Sept.

NPD says revs up 38%

After a slow holiday season in 2005 and soft start to this year, the vidgame biz is bouncing back.

Latest data from industry analyst NPD Group found that total revenue was up 38% in September, with both hardware and games sales up substantially. For the first nine months, the vidgame industry is 11% ahead of the year-earlier period.

Bestselling games last month include the latest edition of Electronic Arts’ perennial favorite “Madden NFL,” which has sold 3.1 million units, as well as THQ’s “Grand Theft Auto” clone “Saint’s Row.”

With several big games set to launch next month, including Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” and Microsoft’s “Gears of War,” as well as two new consoles, the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3, most expect a strong holiday season.

“All signs point to a record-breaking year for the industry,” NPD said in its report.

In an analysis of the NPD data, however, Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel pointed out some negative trends for certain companies.

While “Madden NFL” remains very strong, another of EA’s sports franchises, “NBA Live,” is down 10% from last year, while the competing “NBA 2K” is up 100% from last year’s edition, though “NBA Live” remains much larger in gross sales.

Patel also called sales of Microsoft’s next-gen console Xbox 360 “lackluster,” pointing out that they are slightly below where the original Xbox was after an equivalent 11 months in the market. Many expect the 360 to have a strong holiday sales season, however, as “Gears of War” is the first high-profile exclusive title for the console.

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