(Reuters) - GameStop Corp said holiday sales increased slightly as sales of new video game software from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles such as 'Call of Duty 3' and 'Elder Scrolls V' helped offset a 20 percent drop in hardware sales.
Sales of traditional video game products such as consoles have been struggling globally as gamers turn to lower-priced online games and spend more time gaming on tablets and phones. GameStop has weathered the trend by focusing on selling used games to console owners.
GameStop said total sales rose slightly to $3.02 billion for the nine-week holiday period to Dec 31. It said total company same-store sales decreased 0.3 percent composed of an increase of 0.3 percent in the United States offset by a decrease of 1.5 percent internationally.
One of the areas of strength for GameStop was digital sales, which grew 60 percent, led by Call of Duty Elite subscriptions for downloadable content.
Chief Executive Paul Raines said in an interview that the company's own data indicated GameStop has managed to win market share from "big box" rivals like Best Buy Inc during the holiday period. He said the company was helped by its loyalty reward program. "It meant they were turning left to come to GameStop rather than turning right to go to a big box."
The games retailer said it now expects same-store sales for the fourth quarter and full year to be down 1 to 2 percent. The company also retired the remainder of its long-term debt of $125 million and is now debt free.
GameStop reiterated its outlook of $1.66 to $1.76 for the fourth quarter and $2.82 to $2.92 excluding debt retirement costs for the full year. Analysts on average expect fourth-quarter earnings of $1.73 and full year of $2.88 according to a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke; editing by Mark Porter)