The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Video game retail sales slipped once again in May, hurt by lower prices of gaming consoles.

Total sales of gaming systems, software and accessories dropped to $823.5 million in May, down 5 percent from a year earlier, according to figures released Thursday by market researcher

Hardware sales plunged 20 percent to $241.5 million in May. The lower pricing of gaming consoles was a big reason for the decline as Sony Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. have all cut the prices of their gaming systems in the past year. In terms of units, hardware sales were flat compared with last year, said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

Sales of gaming software sales rose 4 percent, to $466.3 million. "Red Dead Redemption," the hit Western action game from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., was the month’s best-selling title.

"The game garnered spectacular review scores and in its first month (on sale)," Frazier said in a statement. She noted that it has already topped the lifetime sales of its predecessor, "Red Dead Revolver," which was released in May 2004.

Sales of video game accessories also increased, by 3 percent to $115.7 million. For the third month in a row, the best-selling accessory was the Xbox Live 1600 point card, NPD said. The card, which costs $20, lets users pay for movies, games or extra game content through their Xbox 360 consoles.

Recognizing that people are buying and consuming video games in new ways beyond purchasing them in brick-and-mortar stores, NPD said it is starting to measure spending outside of such retailers.

In 2009, for example, consumers spent between $4.5 billion to $4.75 billion on game content through other means, such as subscriptions, digital downloads, game rentals and used game purchases, NPD said. That compared with $19.66 billion spent on traditional retail sales.

NPD said it released the report Thursday three weeks behind schedule because it was overhauling its technology system.

Retail sales for the year through the end of May were down 10 percent compared with the same five-month period last year.

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