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Computer and Video Game Software Sales Reach Record in 2004

by Judy on Jan. 26, 2005 @ 1:45 p.m. PST

Computer and video game software sales set a new record in 2004, reaching $7.3 billion, according to final data compiled by the NPD Group. Halo 2, one of the best-selling titles of 2004, took in more revenue in its first day of sales than any movie has ever taken in its opening day. In addition, Nintendo sold over 1 million units of its new handheld game system, Nintendo DS, in North America by the end of 2004, a mark that took Apple's iPod 19 months to achieve.

"In 2004, video games flew off the shelves as eight titles were sold per second per day throughout the year, evidence of the continuing vast popularity of games among consumers of all ages," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the U.S. association representing computer and video game software publishers. "This industry remains strong and poised for renewed double digit growth over the next five years as we enter a new cycle of video game console launches. The future could not be brighter."

According to the data compiled by the NPD Group, overall U.S. video game console software sales reached $5.2 billion (160.7 million units), computer games sales were $1.1 billion (45 million units), and a record $1.0 billion (42.3 million units) in portable software sales. In terms of total units sold, approximately 248 million computer and video games were sold in 2004 -- nearly two games for every home in America by ESA estimates. (Note: The numbers released by the ESA today do not include sales of game hardware or accessories.) By way of comparison, 2003 figures were: U.S. video game console sales reached $4.9 billion (149 million units), computer games sales were $1.2 billion (52.7 million units), and portable software sales were $903 million (37.4 million units). In terms of total units sold, 239.3 million computer or video games were sold in 2003.

A record twelve video games sold more than one million units, and of these, nine were rated E or T. Fifty video games sold more than 500,000 units and 197 exceeded the 250,000 unit barrier. Comparable video game numbers for 2003 were 10, 57, and 163 respectively. For computer games in 2004, two titles sold more than 500,000 units and 18 broke the 250,000 mark.

Interestingly, despite the disproportionate media attention paid to a few controversial titles, the NPD Group's data indicates that only 16% of games sold last year were rated "Mature (M)," as compared to the 83% of games sold rated "Everyone (E)" or "Teen (T)" (53% rated "E" and 30% rated "T"). Three-quarters of the top twenty selling video games were rated "E" or "T."

Video game players most often purchased action (30.1%), sports (17.8%), and shooter titles (9.6%). Other top selling categories were children and family entertainment titles (9.5%), racing titles (9.4%), role-playing games (9%), and fighting games (5.4%).

Computer gamers most often purchased strategy games (26.9%), family and children's entertainment games (20.3%) and shooter games (16.3%), followed by role-playing games (10%), adventure games (5.9%), sports games (5.4%), and action games (3.9%).

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