Image: Video gamer Paulette Rivera
Damian Dovarganes  /  AP file
Video gamer Paulette Rivera, 13, looks over "Rock Band 2" bundles at a Game Stop store in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2009. Games such as "The Beatles" Rock Band," "Guitar Hero 5" and "Halo 3: ODST," along with price cuts for all three consoles should give the industry a much-needed kick-start for the holidays.
By
updated 10/19/2009 8:45:09 PM ET 2009-10-20T00:45:09

After six straight months of double-digit declines, U.S. video game sales finally saw an improvement in September.

But the rebound was much more muted than analysts had hoped, a sign that the recession has cut deep into consumer spending on interactive entertainment. Even recent console price cuts weren't enough to push hardware dollar sales higher year-over-year.

Market researcher NPD Group on Monday reported a 1 percent increase in September sales of video game hardware, software and accessories compared with the same month last year. The total came to $1.28 billion. Year-to-date sales were down 13 percent.

Hardware sales dropped 6 percent to $472.3 million. For the first time since its launch three years ago, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 sold more units than both the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360.

"This portrays a very strong consumer reaction to the price decrease, as August and September both realized a lift of more than 70 percent over the prior month," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier of the PlayStation 3's performance.

Sony cut the price of the PlayStation 3 by $100 in August. Microsoft also slashed the Xbox 360's price by $100 that month, and Nintendo cut the Wii's price for the first time since its 2006 launch by $50 in late September. The average retail price of console hardware declined 8 percent from last September.

The top-selling gaming platform was still the handheld Nintendo DS, for the sixth month in a row.

Microsoft's "Halo 3: ODST" was by far the month's best-selling game. It helped push software sales 5 percent higher, to $649.3 million, though this was still well below what many analysts expected.

David Magee of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey forecast an increase in the low double digits. Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter expected a 21 percent jump.

Both "The Beatles: Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero 5" were among the top 10 best-selling games, along with Nintendo's "Wii Sports Resort" and "Madden NFL 10" for the Xbox 360.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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