NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Video game sales saw their biggest decline in nearly a year, plunging 26% to $766.2 million in April.

The drop, the fourth largest in history, is at least partially attributable to the shift in the Easter holiday, according to the NPD Group. Still, the lack of new game launches also hurt sales.

Hardware sales tumbled 37% to $249.3 million, while software sales tanked 22% to $398.5 million. Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 were the only systems to see growth year-over-year.

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The portable business also weighed down results. The Nintendo DS, for one, sank 71%, selling just 440,800 of the devices, compared to over 1 million last year.

The unexpected weakness in the sales tally could hit video game stocks today, with investors focusing on names like GameStop ( GME) and Electronic Arts ( ERTS).

Concerns have persisted on how the video game industry will be affected by free games on social networking sites and on Apple's ( AAPL) iPad and iPhone devices.

But there is at least some newness to look forward to later in the year. Both Sony and Microsoft ( MSFT) are expected to launch motion technology for their consoles to enhance gaming, while Nintendo may also reveal a 3-D version of its DS handheld system.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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