Nintendo, Sony Handhelds Lead U.S. Game Sales 4.9% Lower in May

Nintendo Co.’s DS and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation Portable handheld players led a 4.9 percent decline in U.S. video-game sales to $823.5 million in May, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc.

Sales of the touch-screen DS fell 39 percent from a year earlier to 383,700 units, the lowest since January 2008, while PSP sales declined 41 percent to 59,400 units, NPD said in a statement yesterday. Overall sales of video-game hardware slumped 20 percent to $241.5 million in May, it said.

“The portable hardware category contributed the most to the decline in hardware sales for the month,” NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in the statement. Nintendo DS maintained its position as the market’s best-selling machine, Frazier said.

Portable game players are facing increasing competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, as consumers look to devices that connect to the Internet and allow downloads of music, video and applications. Nintendo is introducing a new version of the DS, equipped with three cameras, a wireless connection and a screen that displays 3-D images without the use of specialized glasses.

The Kyoto-based company sold 334,800 Wii consoles in the U.S. in May, a 16 percent gain from a year earlier, NPD said. Sales of Sony’s PlayStation 3 rose 18 percent to 154,500 units in May, while those of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 climbed 11 percent to 194,600 units.

Nintendo gained 0.8 percent to 26,390 yen as of the 11 a.m. trading break on the Osaka Securities Exchange, while Sony rose 1 percent to 2,318 yen in Tokyo. Microsoft advanced 0.7 percent to close at $23.16 in New York trading yesterday.

Software Sales Rise

Apple’s newest model of the iPhone sold 1.7 million units in the first three days after its debut in the U.S., U.K., Japan, France and Germany on June 24, the Cupertino, California-based company said this week. The sales results follow Apple’s earlier announcement that more than 3 million of its iPad tablet computer were sold in the first 80 days since it was first offered on April 3.

“Red Dead Redemption,” from “Grand Theft Auto” maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., held the top two spots for game titles with versions for the Xbox and PS3, Port Washington, New York-based NPD said. Industry software sales rose 4 percent to $466.3 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at palpeyev@bloomberg.net.

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