‘BioShock,’ ‘Tomb Raider’ top March video game sales

A screenshot from the video game 'BioShock Infinite'.

The adventures of Booker Dewitt and Lara Croft were among a few bright spots in another down month for the video game industry.

Sales in March were down 10% compared to the same time last year, according to data from research firm NPD Group. The industry raked in $992.5 million last month in physical retail sales, and $1.9 billion when combined with digital sales, used game sales and game rentals.

Hardware was once again hit hard, as eager video game fans await a new wave of consoles to launch as soon as this year. Sales of hardware were down 32% from March 2012, NPD finds.

For the 27th straight month, the Xbox 360 remains the top-selling console in the U.S., Selling 261,000 in March. Neither Nintendo nor Sony disclosed sales information on the Wii, Wii U or PlayStation 3.

Nintendo’s 3DS, which faces increased competition from Sony’s PlayStation Vita and the smartphone and tablet market, seems to have gained momentum. Sales of the device were up 9%.

Software sales experienced a less significant drop, down 1%. First-person shooter BioShock Infinite and adventure Tomb Raider were the top two best sellers, followed by the Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War: Judgment. The complete top 10 (publisher in parentheses):.

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1. BioShock Infinite (2K/Take-Two Interactive).

2. Tomb Raider (Square Enix).

3. Gears of War: Judgment (Microsoft).

4. God of War: Ascension (Sony).

5. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Activision).

6. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (NIntendo).

7. MLB 13: The Show (Sony).

8. NBA 2K13 (2K).

9. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (Activision).

10. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (Namco Bandai).

The story of Tomb Raider is particularly interesting. It achieved the highest first-month sales in franchise history, says NPD, and Square Enix revealed the game boasted expected sales of 3.4 million. However, the publisher considered the sales tally “weak” in its fiscal year 2013 report.

Meanwhile, the good fortunes of the 3DS extended to software. NPD says sales of 3DS retail titles were up 50% compared to March 2012.

The most notable absence from the list is SimCity, the city-building simulation from Electronic Arts that suffered a myriad of technological bugs upon launch.

April will likely end up a relatively quiet month for the video game industry, with only a handful of big retail titles including the DC Comics themed brawler Injustice: Gods Among Us and an action title based on the reboot of Star Trek.

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