Video Games Sales Tank 15% in February

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Video-game sales dropped 15% in February, as the hype for once-popular games is waning.

Overall the market raked in $1.26 billion during the month, compared with $1.48 billion last year, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.
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"Honestly, I expected the industry to perform somewhat better this month," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement.

Even with some high-profile software launched, like Bioshock 2, game sales tumbled 15% to $624.4 million.

Games like Wii Fitand Guitar Hero, which once helped bolster the market, are also losing their sizzle, as most gamers already own a copy.

Sales of consoles tanked 20% to $426.4 million, with Nintendo's Wii plunging 47% during the month. The company warned of shortages following the holiday season.

But Sony ( SNE) saw a 31% surge in sales of its PlayStation 3, and Microsoft ( MSFT) reported a 9% increase in its Xbox 360.

Elsewhere in the industry, GameStop ( GME) rallied yesterday as chatter surfaced that the largest video game retailer may be purchased by a private equity firm.

"The company generates strong free cash flow and is not getting respect as a public company," Sterne, Agee & Leach analyst Arvind Bhatia says. Thus, a takeover by a private equity firm, according to Bhatia, would make sense.

Shares ended Thursday up about 6% to $19.35.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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