After rough holidays, video game sales up in February

It looks as if all gamers needed was a little time to get caught up with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A family picks up an Xbox One video game console at a Toys 'R' Us store during a Black Friday Sale in New York, on Nov. 28, 2013.

After GameStop had a rough holiday retail season, the video game industry nervously wondered if this signaled a seismic shift in video game sales.

For now, it looks like some of those fears have been soothed. Overall retail video game sales were up 9 percent from last year, with hardware sales up 42 percent, and first four-month software sales for the Playstation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One up 80 percent over the PS3 and Xbox 360, according to industry tracking firm NPD Group. The numbers indicate the new console releases were long overdue for many video game fans. Some highly anticipated video game releases could add traction to sales in coming weeks.

GameStop posted some rough news in late January: after posting less-than-expected holiday retail numbers, its stock tumbled 20 percent – its biggest single-day drop in more than a decade. The company blamed it on a shopping shift from brick-and-mortar retailers to online streaming-game stores, and the transition period between consoles. The newest versions of both Playstation and Xbox (PS4 and Xbox One) were released in early November.

Apparently, many gamers have finally gotten around to purchasing the new hardware and games to boot. Sony’s PS4 led the hardware sales, with XboxOne close behind – reaching more than 90 percent of Sony’s game sales. In a blog post, Microsoft says 258,000 Xbox One units were sold in February. Sony didn't release PS4 sales numbers. It should also be noted the PS4 is $100 cheaper than Xbox One and was released a week earlier.

"The majority of hardware platforms experienced double-to-triple digit increases compared to January 2014," says NPD analyst Liam Callahan in a statement.

Both consoles will likely see a boost this month following the release of two highly anticipated games. Titanfall, a sci-fi military shooter-style game created for Xbox, was released Tuesday and is expected to break previous sales records. Later this month, Infamous: Second Son, an open-world adventure game for Playstation, is expected to be released with fanfare.

Software is the one area where the video game industry still lags – software sales overall were down 9 percent.

"The majority of software losses stemmed from declines for seventh generation consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii), which is expected as we transition from one console generation to another," adds Mr. Callahan.

It appears the gaming industry hasn’t met its watershed moment – yet.

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