Nintendo DSi Helps Nintendo Win April Hardware Sales Contest, Industry Still DownS

The launch of the Nintendo DSi appears to have been the sole saving grace of the video game industry in the U.S. during April, according to NPD Group sales data.

The new Nintendo handheld helped the DS platform move more than a million units in April, almost double what the Nintendo DS sold during March. The million-plus figure is also an improvement over the platform's performance from April 2008, when the DS sold a comparatively paltry 414,800 units in the United States.

Also showing signs of improvement was the $99 PlayStation 2, which sold 172,000 units last month, up from the 112,000 previous gen Sony consoles sold in March.

And that's the good news.

The bad news is that every other platform was down. Sales of the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 declined. That's both on a month-to-month and year-over-year sense.

Part of the year-to-year sales drop for home consoles can be attributed to this April's software releases. Last year, the effects of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and Grand Theft Auto IV were felt in the form of console sales spikes. This year, not so much.

Here's how April worked out.

  • Nintendo DSi - 827,000
  • Wii - 340,000
  • Nintendo DS Lite - 215,000
  • Xbox 360 - 175,000
  • PlayStation 2 - 172,000
  • PlayStation 3 - 127,000
  • PSP - 116,000

"The big story for the month is the performance of portable game hardware sales as propelled by the release of Nintendo's DSi," commented NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "The NDS platform accounted for 31 percent of total industry unit sales this month across all categories."

Sorry, we don't have Nintendo DSi versus Nintendo DS sales figures. The NPD Group considers them a singular platform in their reporting. Update: But we did get those figures from Nintendo.

Video game hardware sales for the month of April 2009 were $391.63 million, down 8% from the $426.94 million in hardware spend from April 2008.

That puts total year-to-date hardware sales at $1.83 billion, down a percentage point from the same point last year.