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Video game spending ticks up in 1st quarter, NPD says

The slight growth is attributed to newer forms of content including digital downloads, mobile games, downloadable content, and social network games.

FarmVille, virtual guns, and Angry Birds helped drive a slight increase in total video game spending in the first quarter, according to NPD Group.

Angry Birds, a social-network phenomenon, recently fly over to the browser. James Martin/CNET

The market researcher said today that gamers poured $5.9 billion into hardware, content, and accessories in the period, a 1.5 percent increase from a year ago. The main catalysts include digital game downloads, mobile games, downloadable content, and social network games.

The new forms of content accounted for $1.85 billion in the period, underscoring the growing importance of games on smartphones and social networks.

The increase comes as Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter predicts that June video game sales will have fallen 6 percent from a year ago, attributed to a light release schedule this season compared with a year ago when "Red Dead Redemption" and "Super Mario Galaxy 2" hit the market.

And while consumers apparently are less willing to spend $50 to $60 on a traditional game, they are showing an eagerness to spend a few dollars on upgraded components or new levels for a mobile game.