‘Force Unleashed’ beats ‘Batman’

'Star Wars' game dominates sales charts

The Jedi Knights had no trouble attracting converts in September, as “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” opened at the top of the sales charts.

According to the NPD Group, LucasArts’ newest videogame entry in the sci-fi saga sold a boffo 1.42 million units in the U.S. LucasArts previously said the game has sold more than 1.5 million units worldwide in its first five days.

Warner Bros. “Lego Batman,” sold 544,000 units, a strong launch given that it was only on sale for the last week of the month. Kid-friendly game, which is the biggest release of the year from the movie studio’s fledgling vidgame unit, came from Lego videogame developer Traveler’s Tales, which WB bought last year for over $200 million.

MTV’s “Rock Band 2,” meanwhile came out of the gate with a decent 363,000 units, despite being available only for one console, Microsoft’s Xbox 360. That’s just slightly lower than combined sales for the initial “Rock Band” on both the 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 in its first month on sale last year.

Overall industry revenue was actually down 7%, the first monthly drop since March 2006. However, that’s primarily attributable to a tough comparison with last September when “Halo 3” debuted, rather than weak performance this year. Overall, videogame biz is still up 26% for the first 9 months of the year, with $11.8 billion in total sales. By the end of the year, industry revenue is expected to top $22 billion.

Nintendo continued its dominant trend, as sales for the Wii surged 34% from August to 687,000 units, making it the best selling console for September and positioning it well for the holidays. Nintendo also saw continued strong sales for its self-published “Wii Fit,” “Mario Kart” and “Wii Play” games.

Microsoft got an even bigger boost thanks to a price cut for the Xbox 360. Sales surged 78% to 347,000 units, putting it well ahead of Sony’s Playstation 3, which saw sales climb a more modest 21% to 232,000 units for the month.

Also in the videogame world Thursday, beleaguered Midway Games announced that it is dropping all of its licenses except for the DC Comics characters used in upcoming “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” and TNA Wrestling and is stopping development on associated games that it hasn’t announced. Though that will help Midway save money in the long run, it will up the publisher’s expected loss per share in the current quarter from 37¢ to 70¢. Midway is controlled by Sumner Redstone and has been caught up in the drama involving the mogul’s sales of CBS and Viacom stock through National Amusements,