FILE PHOTO: Copies of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 video game published by Activision Blizzard, owned by Vivendi, are displayed in a shop in Rome, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

(Reuters) – Videogame sales in March hit their highest in over a decade, as Americans turned to games like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” because of lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavrius.

Sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories in the United States jumped 35% to $1.6 billion last month from a year earlier, according to data from research firm NPD.

The sales and growth are the highest for the month since March 2008, when sales grew over 52% to $1.8 billion, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.

Nintendo’s life-simulation title “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, launched last month, topped NPD’s best-selling list, followed by Activision Blizzard Inc’s (ATVI.O) battle blockbuster “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”.

As the coronavirus shut down the country and forced millions inside their homes, certain businesses including gaming, online streaming and video conferencing have witnessed a boost in user engagement.

Analysts have expected gaming sales to benefit in the near-term from the stay-at-home orders.

“NBA 2K20” from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (TTWO.O) and Sony’s baseball simulation game “MLB: The Show 20” were also among the most sold games, the data showed.

Sales of gaming consoles Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch rose 63% to $461 million in March from a year earlier. Nintendo Switch hardware sales more than doubled.

New-generation consoles, Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5, are expected to come out at the end of the year.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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