NPD: Resi 5 soars, GTA slumps

Resident Evil 5 sold over 1.5 million units across North America in March, according to the latest NPD figures.

Capcom’s newest instalment in the undying franchise was in fact the most popular title for any single platform, with the Xbox 360 edition (938,000) even managing to outsell the lucrative Nintendo DS title Pokemon Platinum (805,000).

Ensemble Studio’s Halo Wars shifted 639,000 units after being released at a very early time of the month – March 3 in the US – while Killzone 2 managed to sell 296,000 units after its launch on February 27.

Nintendo’s Wii Fit managed to hold firm, moving some 541,000 units, while Wii Play took 281,000 after its North American sales surpassed the 10 million milestone.

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars was missing from NPD’s top ten list, meaning the game had sold less than 205,000 units.

According to an investor note from Cowan and Company, Rockstar’s DS title sold far below expectations. Despite a strong critical reception, Take-Two’s GTA: Chinatown Wars sold a very disappointing 89,000 units in March,” wrote group analyst Doug Creutz, well below our more recent 200-250,000 estimate and far below the 400-450,000 we thought the title might sell upon its release.”

Analysts had previously made polarised projections for the market success of Chinatown Wars, with EEDAR predicting the game to sell around the 200,000 mark and Wedbush Morgan Securities’ Michael Pachter believing the game would have sold above 400,000.

Divnich previously stated that attempting to release a major AAA title on the Nintendo DS, targeted at a mature demographic, carries significantly elevated risk”, a summary which now perhaps carries more weight.

Either the demographics are more challenging than we thought, or core gamers did not view the title as an essential purchase due to the nature of the platform,” added Creutz. We believe the experiment was a worthwhile one for Take-Two, and still expect the title to be profitable (though likely marginally so).

However, the disappointing first month sales reinforce our view that achieving meaningful success on Nintendo platforms remains a very difficult proposition for third party publishers,"

Full NPD software figures for March 2009:

1. Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360) – 938K
2. Pokemon Platinum (DS) – 805K
3. Halo Wars (Xbox 360) – 639K
4. Resident Evil 5 (PS3) – 585K
5. Wii Fit (Wii) – 541K
6. MLB ’09: The Show (PS3) – 305K
7. Killzone 2 – (PS3) – 296K
8. Wii Play (Wii) – 281K
9. Mario Kart (Wii) – 278K
10. MLB 2K9 (Xbox 360) – 205K

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