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Xbox 360 rules again in slumping video game market

Microsoft's gaming platform is keeping up its hot streak as the best-selling console in the U.S., though the rest of the industry is still on a downslide.

The Xbox 360 with the Kinect sensor.
The Xbox 360 with the Kinect sensor. Microsoft

The Xbox 360 scored its 16th month in a row as the best-selling console in the United States.

With a 47 percent share of all current console sales, Microsoft sold 236,000 gaming units last month, according to the latest stats from NPD Group.

Total consumer spending on the Xbox 360 (hardware, software, and accessories) hit $261 million, more than what was spent on Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3 combined.

The Xbox also grabbed seven of the top 10 game titles in April. Kinect Star Wars took the No. 1 spot, with The Witcher Two: Assassin of Kings Enhanced ED, Prototype 2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, Mass Effect 3, NBA 2K12, and Major League Baseball 2K12 also on the list.

But the rest of the video game industry remains down in the dumps.

Sales for video game hardware dropped by 32 percent from a year ago, while software sales nosedived by 42 percent. Only sales of hardware accessories showed any growth, inching up 1 percent from last April.

The industry has been on a downward spiral for a while. But some of the sluggish sales seen last month could actually be blamed on Easter.

"This year, Easter fell very early in April, which means most Easter-related purchases may have fallen into March this year, whereas last year, Easter fell late in April causing most sales to fall in that month," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. "We usually find that Easter-related purchases generate an extra 10 percent in revenue in the month they occur, so some of the softness compared to last April could be attributed to the shift in Easter timing."

The industry could also be in store for an uptick in sales this year as new products hit the stage, according to an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

"We expect a return to sales growth in 2012 due to new hardware introductions (PS Vita and Wii U) and many high-profile releases (likely including Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto V)," analyst Michael Pachter said in report released earlier this week.

Pachter also believes a weak string of software titles will crimp sales until the launch of such new games as Activision Blizzard's Diablo III, Take-Two's Max Payne 3, and Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.