updated 1/17/2006 8:20:34 PM ET 2006-01-18T01:20:34

Nearly 1 million copies of the top-seller "World of Warcraft" PC game in 2005 still wasn't enough to swing domestic retail sales of computer games from its slide to below $1 billion, a research firm said Tuesday.

As online gaming picked up in popularity, annual U.S. retail sales of PC game software sank 14 percent to $953 million last year, down from $1.1 billion in 2004, according to data by the NPD Group.

Overall volume totaled 38 million units, a 19 percent decline from 47 million units the year before, NPD said.

The research group attributed the dwindling volume — which reflects only games sold on CD-ROMs — to increased game play through Web sites and subscriptions to massively multiplayer online, or MMO, games.

"While we have seen retail sales of PC games decrease for several years now, we know from talking to consumers about their online gaming behaviors that playing games on the PC, whether it's via online casual sites or through MMO subscription play, has been increasing," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

Following Vivendi Universal's top-selling "World of Warcraft" title, with more than 957,000 units sold last year, were Electronic Arts Inc.'s "The Sims 2: University Expansion Pack," with 574,000 units, and "The Sims 2," with 559,000 units.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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