NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- February's a cold, cabin-fever month for much of the country, which can only help the video game industry heat up.
Hopes dimmed last year when the industry brought in between $15.4 billion and $15.6 billion, which was on par with or 1% less than 2009's totals, according to NPD Group. Games themselves were a big part of the problem, as software sales slid 5%, to $10.1 billion from $10.6 billion. Last month, overall sales slid 5% from January 2009. If not for Microsoft's (MSFT) Kinect motion-capture device and Sony's (SNE) PlayStation Move motion controllers contributing to a 6% increase in video game accessory sales in January, it may have been a complete loss.
Part of the problem, however, was that anticipated titles announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles last summer -- Activision's (ATVI) Call of Duty: Black Ops notwithstanding -- didn't reach gamers before year's end. Through planning and delays, the Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) 3DS portable game system and various games weren't slated for release until the first quarter of this year. While that's not necessarily a bad thing for gamers, it's created a crowded field this month and didn't do developers any favors last February when software sales tanked 15% and releases such as Take Two's (TTWO) Bioshock 2, Electronic Arts' (ERTS) Dante's Inferno and Sony's Heavy Rain all underperformed.
Unlike last February, however, this month's given gamers a few reasons to brave the elements and buy a game that will melt away a few of those winter hours. These nine titles in particular helped thaw gamers' hearts and hands: