Ahead of the Bell: NPD to report video game sales

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NEW YORK (AP) — “Modest” is the word analysts are using in their expectations for how well video games sold in December, that all-important holiday month that brings in a large chunk of the year’s revenue for most game companies.

When it comes to estimates though, they vary. Michael Pachter of Wedbush is forecasting a 2 percent software sales growth, to $2.41 billion. He thinks a strong Black Friday and a record November “likely continued into December.

Cowen’s Doug Creutz disagrees. He’s forecasting a 5 percent decline in software sales for the month, due mainly to the ongoing softness in demand for Wii and handheld games. These tend to be sold more heavily during the holidays. But while Creutz is expecting a decline, he says it will be more modest than last December’s 8 percent drop.

Arvind Bhatia from Sterne Agee expects software sales to be flat to down 5 percent and thinks expectations are “relatively modest.”

There’s little doubt that Activision Blizzard Inc.’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” was December’s best-selling game. Others likely to have done well include “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” from Bethesda Softworks and “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” from Ubisoft.

Market researcher NPD Group is scheduled to report U.S. retail sales on Thursday evening, or possibly Friday.