Game has no overall effect on console sales

“Grand Theft Auto IV” was huge, but it didn’t have the ripple effect that the vidgame biz was hoping for.

Latest installment in the uber successful franchise sold 2.85 million units in its first five days on sale in the U.S., according to April data from the NPD group. That makes it one of the fastest selling games ever.

“GTA IV” has already sold about six million units, with a retail value of more than $500 million, worldwide in its first week, according to Rockstar.

However, the launch had no apparent effect on sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3, the two consoles for which it’s available. Both saw substantial decreases from March to April, with Xbox 360 sales declining 28% to 188,000 and PS3 sales falling 27% to 187,100.

Though it’s possible that most early “GTA IV” buyers already had a new console and that a “GTA IV” effect on hardware sales will be apparent in May, industryites expected to see one right off the bat. When Xbox 360 exclusive “Halo 3” debuted in late September, for instance, sales of the Microsoft console nearly doubled.

“GTA IV” for Xbox 360 handily outsold the PS3 version by a margin of 1.85 million to 1 million. However, Sony can claim the higher attach rate, as 26% of the smaller group of PS3 owners bought a copy, compared to 18% of all gamers with an Xbox 360.

Nintendo consoles continued to dominate, with the Wii selling 714,000 units, more than the 360, PS3, and Playstation 2 combined. To date, U.S. gamers have bought 9.6 million Wii’s, 4.3 million PS3’s, and 10.1 million units of the 360, which launched a year earlier.

Nintendo’s handheld DS sold a strong 415,000 units in April, well ahead of Sony’s handheld PSP, which moved 193,000. Since they launched, the DS has a commanding lead of 19.6 million to 11.4 million.

Other major game debut in April was Nintendo’s “Mario Kart Wii,” which came out just two days before “GTA IV” and sold a very healthy 1.12 million units.

New titles that failed to sell the 141,000 units necessary to break into NPDs top 10 included THQ’s “Battle of the Bands,” Midway’s “NBA Ballers: Chosen One,” and D3’s “Dark Sector.”

Overall vidgame industry revenue was up a boffo 47% in April from last year, at $1.23 billion. Biggest contributor was a “GTA IV”-driven 68% jump in software sales to $655 million. Year-to-date, vidgame industry revenue is up 31% to almost $5.5 billion.

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