NEW YORK -- The video-game industry saw software sales decline from 2004 levels for a third straight month in November as the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 console helped erode demand for existing titles.
US video-game sales plunged 18 percent from last year to about $700 million in November, market research firm NPD Group said yesterday.
The overall results were buoyed somewhat by hardware sales, which gained 10 percent to about $456 million over November 2004. Including accessories, total industry sales slid 9 percent to reach $1.3 billion last month.
Analysts say the November figures are difficult to compare with the year-ago period, when blockbuster hits ''Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" and ''Halo 2" drove a sharp rise in sales.
Still, last month's sales were almost twice those in October as the industry ramped up for the critical holiday spending season.
Much of the decline in software sales can be attributed to consumers holding out for the next wave of consoles, such as the late November debut of Xbox 360, said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. Gamers have also been waiting for the spring release of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3.
Retailers sold about $70 million of software for Xbox 360 and $60 million for new handheld systems, but it was not enough to offset the $240 million drop in sales of current games, Pachter noted.
''Star Wars: Battlefront II" led November's titles, selling 467,000 copies for the Xbox and 447,000 units for PlayStation 2.