U.S. video game sales declined for the seventh straight month in March, falling 8 percent to $499 million, amid a rocky move to new console technology, market research firm NPD Group said Tuesday.
Sales of titles for Microsoft Corp.'s next-generation Xbox 360 console, which was the first new console to be released when it shipped in November, contributed $96 million to the month's total.
NPD measures nearly two-thirds of retail sales in the United States and makes projections for the remainder of the market. Its March data excludes sales of PC games.
Hardware sales fell 31 percent in March to $220 million, on weakened sales of current generation consoles like the original Xbox, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Co. Ltd's GameCube.
Sony's new PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Revolution are slated to hit stores later this year.
Hard-core gamers, who are first to pick up new systems, are delaying other purchases ahead of the Sony and Nintendo console releases.
Shortages, like those seen after the release of the Xbox 360 are not uncommon, and could again dampen sales following the debuts of the PlayStation 3 and Revolution.
"Things are likely to get worse before they get better," said NPD video game analyst Anita Frazier.
"Kingdom Hearts II," a PlayStation 2 title from Square Enix Inc. was the best-selling game in March, according to NPD.
Xbox 360 titles rounded out the top three. UbiSoft's "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter" was the second-best seller, followed by Take-Two Interactive Software's "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion."
The Entertainment Software Association, a video game trade group, put U.S. sales of video game hardware and software at $7.3 billion in 2004 -- a figure that rivals Hollywood box office revenue.