Analyst: March Game Sales to Increase 35%

Led by games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Rainbow Six Vegas 2, video game sales in March are forecast to be up significantly, said analyst Colin Sebastian.

In advance of The NPD Group's March video game sales report next week, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian has forecast that video game software sales for the period grew about 35 percent thanks to new releases such as Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In mid-March Nintendo of America proudly announced that the game had become the fastest selling title in the company's history, selling over 1.4 million units in just one week.

Other top sellers should include EA's Army of Two and Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, which has already sold over two million worldwide, leading the French publisher to once again raise its full-year guidance.

Catalog sales of Activision's Call of Duty 4 and MTV's Rock Band are also expected to boost sales, and Sebastian believes the early Easter holiday, which led to earlier spring breaks for students, benefited software sales and PS3 hardware sales.

Sebastian continues to see no weakness in the video game sector, despite the current economic woes in the U.S. "Our retail and industry channel checks indicate that video game selling trends remain positive through early April. Specifically, we believe there is little spillover into the video game market from overall consumer spending weakness," he said.

Sebastian continued, "We expect ongoing positive growth trends into the summer months with visibility from a solid release lineup on all three console platforms, including GTA IV (TTWO), Mario Kart & Wii Fit (Nintendo), GT 5: Prologue (Sony), Metal Gear Solid 4 (Konami), and Spore (ERTS). While more modest growth rates are likely in 2H08, we expect healthy sales trends to continue over the balance of the year."

Interestingly, with the launch of Wii Fit coming soon, Sebastian also noted that Nintendo may "consider incremental production and/or shifting of regional unit allocation." He said that his forecast for 2008 of six to seven million Wiis sold in North America will "likely prove conservative." via gamedaily

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