The latest NPD sales data is in, with games media and analysts picking apart the stats, which show that overall US game industry sales declined 17 per cent in March.

Software sales dropped 17 per cent to $792.83 million for March, while hardware sales fell 18 per cent to $455.55 million.

Furthermore, while all three of the hardware manufacturers – Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft – were quick to send out celebratory press releases spinning the figures in their own favour, it soon becomes clear that the sales of PS3's much-hyped first-party exclusive Killzone 2 were, as VG247 puts it, "one of the shock stories of last night's NPD release."

Killzone 2 sales disappoint

Sony's Killzone 2 was "outsold in the US last month by the likes of Halo Wars and MLB '09: The Show" notes VG247, while a post over on the EG forum makes some sense of the sales figures for a number of major PS3 and Xbox 360 exclusives (adding the context of the 'installed base' of consoles out in the market at the time of each game's release).

Xbox 360 sales:

  • Gears 1 - 1.00m in 3 weeks to 3.4m 360s
  • Bioshock - 0.49m in 10 days (0.64m over 40 days) to 6.1m 360s.
  • COD4 - 1.57m in 4 weeks to 7.8m 360s.

PS3 sales:

  • COD4 - 0.44m in 4 weeks to 2.4m PS3s.
  • GTAIV - 1.0m in 5 days to 4.2m PS3s.
  • MGS4 - 0.74m in 3 weeks to 4.8m PS3s.
  • CODW@W - 0.60m in 2 weeks to 6.1m PS3s
  • Killzone 2 - 0.62m in 5 weeks to 7.2m PS3s

Sky not falling in

"While it might be tempting to jump to the conclusion that the sky is starting to fall on the video games industry given this months results, it's important to remember that two very big things are different this year than last," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

"First, Easter fell in March last year whereas it fell in April this year, and last March included the release of Super Smash Bros: Brawl, which went on to become the fourth best-selling game in 2008."

"This is very much like September of last year, which did not compare favourably to September of 2007 as the result of a huge game launch, Halo 3," she added. "Besides March 2008, this month's sales are 31% higher than the previous highest March which was March of 2007, so it was a pretty healthy month for sales, overall."