U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories in the important month of November rose 0.4 percent to $3 billion as sales of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" blew up last year's "Call of Duty: Black Ops," according to market researcher NPD Group.
The results give a mixed picture of the holiday sales period that is a make-or-break time for video game companies.
Hardware sales, which include game consoles and accessories, fell 9 percent from a year earlier to $982.4 million, mainly because last November's figures were boosted by the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s Kinect motion controller for the Xbox.
Sales of software _ that is, of the video games themselves _ rose 15 percent to $1.67 billion. That's much more than the 3 percent increase Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter was expecting.
"Modern Warfare 3," a military shooter from Activision Blizzard, was the month's best-selling game, beating last year's "Black Ops," also from Activision Blizzard, by about 7 percent.
NPD's figures exclude game downloads and games that are played purely online on Facebook and mobile devices.
Despite the increase in software sales, price cuts in all categories other than portable game devices meant that total sales stayed almost flat, said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. For physical game sales, it was the best November on record and beat out November 2008, she said.
Software sales including PC games, as well as though made for use on consoles and hand-held gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS, rose 16 percent to $1.74 billion.