Market research firm NPD Group reports sales of video games in the U.S. were up 34 percent in February to $1.33 billion.
Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 have been in such high demand stores are having a hard time keeping them in stock. Microsoft spokesman David Dennis said the company moved up shipments during the holidays and hasn't been able to catch up since.
He added "we should be in good shape" by the time "Grand Theft Auto IV," the highly anticipated latest installment of the Rockstar Games franchise, hits store shelves April 29.
The game, which will be available on the Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, is expected to boost sales of both consoles. Pre-orders have been better than expected, according to its publisher, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.
Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan, expects the game to sell about 9 million units during the company's fiscal year, which ends in October. Roughly 6 million of this, he added, will be to Xbox 360 owners.
February is normally a slow month for video game publishers coming off holiday highs, and consumers have also been cutting back spending amid economic worries. Still, with "several marquee titles still to come in the front half of the year, the industry is poised to achieve another year of record-breaking sales despite difficult economic conditions," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier in an e-mail.