A couple significant things happened with last month’s North American video game sales figures from NPD: The industry as a whole improved over March 2009, and software sales for Sony’s Playstation 3 dominated the charts.
The overall industry gains aren’t a huge deal to me. Console and software makers will boast to their investors that March 2010 was a year-over-year improvement, but that’s only because sales tanked in 2009. Compared to March 2008, overall video game sales are still in the red, at $1.53 billion this year compared to $1.7 billion two years ago.
More interesting is how Sony took more games in the top 20 than any other console, and led the charts with the blockbuster God of War III. That game sold 1.1 million copies. Looking back at the debuts of other notable PS3 exclusives — Uncharted 2, Killzone 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, LittleBigPlanet — no other game came close. Another Sony exclusive, MLB 10: The Show, also got into the charts last month.
Non-exclusives are a wash: Final Fantasy XIII for PS3 outsold the Xbox 360 version, probably because the series is a Playstation mainstay, but Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was most popular on the Xbox 360, perhaps because Xbox Live provides a better multiplayer experience, and because there weren’t many other hit action games out for the Xbox 360 last month.
Still, Sony’s got to be thrilled that its heavyweight games are finally going toe-to-toe with the Xbox 360. For game developers, it signals that the console’s ripe for development (see: Activision’s once-harsh words for Sony), and that’s always good for PS3 owners.
Meanwhile, I’m just loving that the PS3-exclusive Heavy Rain stuck around in the top 20 for its second month. Maybe there’s a market for experimental interactive drama after all.