April video game sales plunge

A new NPD Group research report revealed U.S. video games during the month of April dropped 26 percent when compared to April 2009.

The 26 percent drop is the fourth biggest year-over-year drop in a single month since September 2000 — video game and software sales dropped from $1.03 billion to $766.2 million — as casual games continue to cause problems.

Casual games are appealing to non-gamers who are interested in easy-to-play controls and simple plot lines – the complete opposite of the RPGs and FPS titles most of us enjoy playing.  These cheaper – if not free – game titles also can be used on mobile phones and MP3 players, while most games are limited to consoles and PCs.

The top selling video game console in April was the Nintendo Wii, with the Microsoft Xbox 360 in second and Sony PlayStation 3 in third.  The Xbox 360 and PS3 saw sales increases in April 2010 compared to April 2009, with both companies expected to slash prices again this summer.

The best selling game last month was Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction video game, which sold almost 500,000 units.

Even though the game industry took a beating in April, analysts believe the video game industry should recover and have success throughout the end of the year.  Recovery should begin immediately in May, with the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Red Dead Redemption, and the newest UFC video game from THQ.

In June, the E3 video game conference is taking place in Los Angeles, when Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are expected to release new game titles and hardware.

Microsoft is reportedly ready to release Project Natal in October, while the Sony PS3 Move motion controller will also be ready this fall.