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updated: 3/1/2011 5:21 PM

Video game sales fall ahead of product debuts

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U.S. video-game sales fell 10 percent to $818.9 million in August as consumers reduced their purchases of Wii and DS game players by Nintendo Co.

Sales of the Nintendo DS handheld player plunged 38 percent to 342,700 units, researcher NPD Group Inc. said today in a statement. Nintendo sold 244,300 Wii consoles in the U.S., a 12 percent drop from a year ago. Purchases of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 rose 66 percent to 356,700 units, while Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 jumped 7.6 percent to 226,000 units.

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The device makers plan new products as the U.S. holiday season nears. Kyoto-based Nintendo said in May it will introduce a handheld player with three cameras, a wireless connection and a screen that displays 3-D images without the need for special glasses. Sony plans to introduce its Move motion-activated peripherals on Sept. 19, while Microsoft will begin selling a motion-sensing peripheral called Kinect in November.

"This month reflected the lowest sales for August since 2006," Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst, said in the statement. "While all categories are down in both dollars and units, the portable portion of the industry is down to a greater extent."

Software revenue fell 14 percent to $403.5 million, Port Washington, New York-based NPD said. Sales suffered from a lighter release slate in August than in 2009, when Eidos Interactive Ltd. released the hit game "Batman: Arkham Asylum," Todd Mitchell, an analyst with Kaufman Brothers in New York, said in a research note.

"We expect a return to software sales growth beginning in September, driven by the launches of 'Halo: Reach' and Sony's Move," said Douglas Creutz, an equity analyst with Cowen & Co. in San Francisco.

Mad About 'Madden'

Electronic Arts Inc.'s "Madden NFL 2011" was the most popular game, selling 1.81 million copies for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.

DS sales have fallen every month since Nintendo announced plans for a new handheld player by next March. With the Move device, Tokyo-based Sony aims to capture some of the casual- gaming audience that has been Nintendo's stronghold with the Wii.

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