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New Consoles Offset Start of a Down Year for Video Game Industry

The launches of new consoles the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 from Microsoft and Sony, respectively, propped up earnings results for the video game industry in January, with hardware sales up 17% to $241 million last month.

Overall, the games biz earned $664 million, a decline of 21% during the month, according to the NPD Group, which follows the industry. The numbers account only for sales of new hardware and software, believed to make up half of the industry’s revenue.

“Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong as it was No. 1 in sales for next-gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next-gen competitor, and remains the cumulative leader,” touted Guy Longworth, senior VP of PlayStation brand marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America. “Although PS4 remains severely constrained at retail, we are working hard to refresh supply as quickly as possible.”

When factoring in used game sales and rentals ($113 million) and digital sales of games, microtransactions, subscriptions and downloadable content ($335 million), the industry is expected to have generated $1.05 billion in January, NPD said.

The top five bestselling games in January were Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty: Ghosts”; “Take-Two Interactive’s “NBA 2K14”; Electronic Arts’ “Battlefield 4”; Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag”; and Take-Two’s “Grand Theft Auto V.” “Minecraft,” which made its debut on the Xbox 360 after proving a massive hit online, came in seventh.

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NPD does not reveal specific unit sales for titles but reported that software earned $224 million, 40% less than in the same period in 2013.

The research firm cautioned that January 2013 included five weeks of sales data, which significantly affected comparisons with the January 2014 results. This kind of leap week occurs every five to six years.

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