U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories rose 1 percent to $1.08 billion in October, helped by sales of “Battlefield 3,” market researcher NPD Group said Friday.

Cary-based Epic Games’ “Gears of War 3,” which hit the market in September, ranked ninth in titles sold for last month. Gears sold 5 million copies in the first week of launch, according to media reports, and is expected to reach 7 million or more sold. It could become the largest seller in the Gears franchise.

Hardware sales, which include game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii, rose 6 percent from October 2010 to $295.6 million.

Sales of software, or the video games themselves, rose 3 percent to $621.3 million.

That’s well short of the 21 percent year-over-year increase that Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz was expecting. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, meanwhile, was forecasting a 14 percent software sales growth.

When including PC games in addition to games for consoles and hand-held gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS, software sales rose 1 percent to $649.5 million.

“Battlefield 3,” a military shooter from Electronic Arts Inc. was the month’s best-selling game with just under 2 million units sold. (Read TechWireGamer’s review here.)

Chart Leaders

The top sellers as ranked by NPD and cited at the website VGChartz:

1. Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC) – nearly 2 million
2. Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3)  - 1.5 million
3. NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC) 550k – 1.5m – likely around 1m? (VGC had 850,000)
4. Rage (360, PS3, PC) – 550k
5. Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360) – 320k-550k
6. Dark Souls (PS3, 360) < 320k
7. Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP)
8. Forza Motorsport 4 (360)
9. Gears of War 3 (360)
10. FIFA Soccer 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, 3DS)
11. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

The year’s biggest game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” went on sale Nov. 8 so it’s not counted in the current sales figures. (Its opening day set a record. Read details here.)

Another major title debuted Friday: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Read TechWireGamer’s first impressions here.

NPD does not include game downloads and online games played on Facebook and mobile devices in its monthly retail sales data.

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