Console transition slams videogame sales

Industry hit by its first decline in four years

The massive US video-game market suffered a sales drop in 2000 after five years of growth, with the blame placed on economic slowdown and the difficult transition to new consoles according to a report published Wednesday.

The report -- from research firm NPD Group -- claims the gaming market hit a peak of $6.9bn (£4.7bn) in sales in 1999, fuelled by the popularity of such platforms as Sony's PlayStation. But PlayStation and its generation of consoles came to the end of their lives last year, and buyers waited for newer platforms such as Sega's Dreamcast, Sony's PlayStation2 and the upcoming Xbox from Microsoft. The result: sales of gaming machines, software, accessories and other paraphernalia fell 5.8 percent to $6.5bn.

Sales of consoles dropped more than 21 percent from $1.4bn to $1.1bn, with unit sales declining from 11.8 million to 8.2 million, while software sales fell 2.6 percent from $4.2bn to $4.09bn.

NPD says the figures reflect last year's transitional period from old to new platforms, rather than a larger slowdown in the videogame industry. Unit sales of games and equipment -- which factor out manufacturers' price cuts -- showed an increase from 188.6 million in 1999 to 191.4 million last year.

Computer game sales increased seven percent to $1.6bn in 2000, according to NPD.

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