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US video game sales slump in December as hardware jumps

Video game hardware sales in the US increase 28 percent in December year over year, while software sales declined 17 percent, NPD Group reports.

Microsoft's Xbox One.
Microsoft's Xbox One. Sarah Tew/CNET

US sales of video game hardware increased 28 percent year over year in December thanks to the launch of next-generation game consoles, but consumers were less interested in buying video game software, according to new data released Thursday.

US consumer spending on new video game hardware rose 28 percent in December to $1.37 billion from $1.07 billion a year earlier, according to industry researcher NPD Group. Much of that growth was credited to new game consoles from Microsoft and Sony, both of which reported record sales figures following their launches in November.

"Increases in December hardware sales were caused by continued strong sales of the new Xbox One and PS4, driving console hardware sales up over 50 percent compared to December 2012," NPD Group's Liam Callahan said in a statement.

However, retail sales of video game software declined 17 percent to $1.31 billion in December, NPD reported. The researcher attributed that drop to the poor sales performance of November titles in December, as well as the comparative success of Far Cry 3 in the year-ago period.

Overall, retail sales of new video game software, consoles, and accessories rose 2 percent to $3.28 billion from $3.21 billion a year prior, its fifth monthly increase, the researcher reported.

Microsoft's Xbox One claimed the top console spot with 908,000 units sold in December, according to NPD figures cited by Microsoft. Sony sold 4.2 million PlayStation 4s worldwide between its November launch and the end of the year. The Xbox One, which was released a week later, tallied 3 million in unit sales.

The top 5 selling titles in the US for December were Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Just Dance 2014, Madden NFL 25, and NBA 2K14.