But December was biggest sales month ever

The recession has socked the videogame industry, with overall sales in the U.S. falling 8% to come in at nearly $19.7 billion last year.

That’s down from $21.4 billion in 2008, according to the NPD Group. The industry was expected to take a hit after only four months last year saw an increase in sales over 2008. One of those months, however, was December. The videogame industry’s $5.5 billion haul in December was the biggest sales month ever, besting the previous year by 4% and perhaps presaging better things to come. Nintendo’s “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” led the charge for the month, topping 2.8 million units.

Nintendo also sold 3.8 million Wii consoles during December thanks to a price cut on the popular device. Cost reductions also helped move 1.4 million PlayStation 3’s for Sony and 1.3 million Xbox 360s for Microsoft.

For the year every videogame category experienced a decline aside from sales of portable hardware, up 6%. Console sales were off 13%, and software sales for PC games took an even bigger hit, with earnings down 23% to $538 million in 2009. The total console, portable and PC game software biz generated $10.5 billion, down 11%.Clearly, 2009 was a tough year for consumers and the national economy,” said Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Assn., the U.S. org that reps computer and videogame publishers. “However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry’s strength; 2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry’s history” up from when the industry earned nearly $8 billion in 2000. “Our industry’s structure is solid, and I anticipate a strong 2010 with a pipeline full of highly anticipated titles.”

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