Videogames slump in February

Despite launch of Vita, sales decline 20% compared to 2011

Even with the launch of Sony’s PlayStation Vita, the videogames biz saw sales decline 20% in February to $1 billion compared to 2011. That’s still up versus the 34% hit the overall industry took in January.

February game sales are propped up, though, when factoring in used game sales, digital downloads, social network and mobile games, rentals and subscription revenue, which could account for an additional $550 million to $600 million during the month, NPD Group said.

Still sales of software across all platforms plunged 24% to $464 million, while hardware was off 18% to $381 million.

With the Vita having hit U.S. store shelves Feb. 22, there were just four days of sales for the Vita. Without the handheld, hardware sales rose 62% over January. With the Vita, the number increases to 82%.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 led in hardware sales as the best-selling console for the seventh month in a row, helped by the Kinect.

Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in February (including hardware, software and accessories) added up to $383 million, the most for any console in the U.S.

Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” was the top-selling game of the month, followed by Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy XIII-2,” THQ’s “UFC Undisputed 3,” Electronic Arts’ “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” (from baseball pitcher Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios), and Ubisoft’s “Just Dance 3.”

A decline in catalog sales was blamed for the decline in content sales at retail, with games that launched in 2011 selling 32% fewer units in February than last year, NPD said.

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