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Analysts: Expect NPD To Show Flat March Sales

Year-over-year U.S. game industry growth, at least as far as NPD data goes, is likely to languish in March and April -- last year's performance of Smash Bros. and GTA IV is hard to top.
Game industry growth, at least as far as NPD data goes, is likely to languish in March and April, say analysts like Wedbush Morgan and EEDAR. That's because it's tough to post growth against the period in 2008 that saw the strong releases of both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Grand Theft Auto IV. "While there were several solid games released in March, and several more expected in April, the outstanding sell-through of SSBB and GTA IV lead us to expect relatively flat sales in March and April 2009," says Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. Pachter thinks last year's hardware performance might be hard to beat, too, but predicts March results will show sell-through of 800,000 Wii, 400,000 Xbox 360, and 350,000 PS3 consoles, a 25 percent increase. Although it's likely to boost PS3 software numbers, Killzone 2 hasn't closed the hardware gap between the Xbox 360 and the PS3, Pachter believes. And while the price cut for PS2 to $99 might boost its sales, any increase will be "small [and] incremental," especially since the system's software sales are expected to post a 57 percent year-over-year decline in March. Overall, Pachter expects March industry sales of $955 million -- flat compared to last March. "Our forecast reflects flat year-over-year sales of Xbox 360 software, 7 percent growth for Wii software, and 67 percent growth for PS3 software," he concludes.

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