Boosted by three high-profile releases of new gaming systems, retail sales in the U.S. video game industry last year shot up nearly 43 percent to $9.4 billion from $6.6 billion in 2000, according to market researcher NPD.
The previous sales record was $6.9 billion, set in 1999.
Last year witnessed the launch of three popular game systems: Nintendo'sand its , and Microsoft's . These launches helped increase video game hardware sales by 39 percent in 2001.
"The impact from the next generation console systems was nothing short of record-breaking during the holidays," Ilene Haase, director of toys and video games for NPDFunworld, said in a statement.
"Grand Theft Auto 3," developed by Rockstar Games for Sony's PlayStation 2, was the best-selling console game, with nearly 2 million units sold since October 2001.
The robust growth was not limited to software for game consoles. PC game sales also had a good year, reaching nearly $6 billion in 2001 from $5.4 billion in the preceding year. The most popular PC game was Electronic Arts' "The Sims," which has sold more than 2.6 million copies during its two-year lifespan.
Nintendo continued to dominate the portable game console market. Its Game Boy Advance saw unit sales increase 22 percent from 2000. Gaming accessories saw a 26 percent increase in unit sales and a 47 percent increase in year-over-year revenue.
NPD added that 2002 could be the year that interactive,become more widely played.