U.S. retail sales of video games tumbled 20 percent in February as people cut spending on video games and systems in a month without big new game launches.
Sales fell to $1.06 billion last month from $1.33 billion in February 2011, according to market researcher NPD Group.
Sales of the games themselves dropped 23 percent to $464.4 million,
But NPD analyst Anita Frazier estimates that people spent an additional $550 million to $600 million on acquiring video content outside of brick-and-mortar retail stores. This includes spending on mobile games, video game downloads and buying virtual items.
Hardware sales fell 18 percent to $381.4 million. Hardware includes game consoles such as the Wii and the Xbox 360 and handheld systems such as the Nintendo 3DS. NPD no longer discloses how many gaming systems get sold each month.
Sales of video game accessories such as game controllers declined 16 percent to $215.2 million. Accessories range from game controllers to the Xbox Live point card, which lets users pay for movies, games or extra game content through their Xbox 360 consoles.
The month's top-selling game was "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" from Activision Blizzard Inc. Square Enix Inc.'s "Final Fantasy XIII-2" came in at No. 2.
Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 was the best-selling console for the seventh month in a row. Microsoft said it sold 426,000 units in February.
Sony Corp.'s handheld PlayStation Vita launched in the U.S. on Feb. 22, and NPD said there were four days of retail sales for the gadget in the February sales report. With the Vita, video game console units rose 87 percent from January. Without it, hardware unit sales rose 62 percent.