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Culture

Video game sales set record in 2001

A sluggish economy and terrorist attacks did little to satiate Americans' urge to zap aliens, according to new research.

A sluggish economy and terrorist attacks did little to satiate Americans' urge to zap aliens, according to a study released Thursday.

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's GameCube and its Game Boy Advance, and Microsoft's Xbox. 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, Internet-based games become more widely played.