Ahead of this afternoon's NPD report for February's video game retail sales in the U.S., analyst firm Sterne Agee has predicted that software sales fell by 20 to 25 percent year-over-year due to a comparatively weak release lineup for the month.
Sterne Agee believes last month's key releases -- which included 38 Studios' Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
, Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII
, and Namco Bandai's Soulcalibur V
(the latter two shipped on January 31) -- were not as strong as February 2011's games.
During the same period last year, the major game releases included Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
, Sony's Killzone 3
, and Electronic Arts' Bulletstorm
. Those titles helped push February 2011's software revenues to $637.4 million.
"We believe this year's new release schedule performed below last year's new releases and catalog sales (i.e., Wii) remained under pressure," says the analyst group. It expects February 2012's revenues to fall between $478 to 509.9 million.
This month's report follows particularly woeful January 2012 results
for video game software -- revenues dropped year-over-year by 34 percent to $379.6 million, more than double the 15 percent decline initially expected
, to at least one analyst's disbelief
Sterne also commented on Sony's new PS Vita portable, which launched in the U.S. last month and is facing difficulties in Japan
: "We think PS Vita is an interesting handheld and is meeting expectations. However, it will take some time before it can move the needle on software."