Nintendo 58% of Game Sales in March, Xbox 360 Shows Growth 08-09, Sony Silent

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I love the end of the month, well ok so it’s two weeks past the end of the last month. But anyway, we get swamped with almost everyone claiming victory for the month before, except for Sony who has been extremely reticent to talk about any sales numbers in press releases of late. It seems that the one-two punch of the Big Red N and the big green X are still kicking the prior king of the hill.

Nintendo 58.4% of March Sales

Nintendo’s Wii home console and the Nintendo DS portable video game system comfortably led U.S. sales in March, according to data from the independent NPD Group, which tracks video game sales in the United States. Pokémon Platinum Version for Nintendo DS emerged as the No. 2 video game of the month, with nearly 805,000 units sold.

Wii tallied sales of nearly 601,000 in March, while Nintendo DS sold more than half a million, even in advance of the April 5 launch of the new Nintendo DSi system. Both Wii and Nintendo DS extended their lead as the best-selling video game systems of this generation.

“Nintendo systems accounted for 58.4 percent of the video game hardware sold in March, more than all other systems combined,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Consumers continue to be attracted to the wide range of software available and the great value of Nintendo systems.”

Four games published by Nintendo finished in the top 10 best-sellers of March. These include Pokémon Platinum Version at No. 2, Wii Fit at No. 3 with more than 541,000 sold, Wii Play at No. 8 with more than 281,000 sold and Mario Kart Wii at No. 9 with more than 278,000 sold.

Early U.S. sales of the new Nintendo DSi hand-held system are ahead of those for Nintendo DS Lite, according to Nintendo’s internal tracking numbers. In its first week, Nintendo DSi sold 435,000 in the United States. After the same amount of time on the U.S. market after its launch, Nintendo DS Lite had sold 226,300 systems. These numbers demonstrate that the Nintendo DS brand remains strong, and that consumers continue to look for the best new experiences on their portable video game systems.

So far this year, video game industry revenues are on par with 2008, but Nintendo remains a key driver. Without Nintendo products, the industry would be down 14 percent for the year, according to the NPD Group.

Xbox 360 shows 25% Growth over 2008

Xbox 360 was the only game console to show year-over-year growth in the U.S. as the $199 starting price continued to resonate with consumers looking to get more entertainment value for their money. Retail sales of Xbox 360 systems hit 330,000 units in March, climbing 25 percent from a year earlier, in contrast to double-digit declines posted by Wii and PlayStation 3. March was the sixth month in a row that Xbox 360 has seen year-over-year sales growth.

Games on Xbox 360

Xbox 360 claimed four of the top 10 console games in March, including “Resident Evil 5,” “Halo Wars,” “MLB 2K09,” and “Guitar Hero: Metallica” (March NPD data). The titles covered action, strategy, sports and music genres, highlighting the breadth of gaming experiences available on Xbox 360. Sales of third-party games on Xbox 360, a key measure of platform health, hit $185 million in March, more than any other system (March NPD data). Xbox 360 is also home to the most top-rated games of any current-generation console, with 139 titles earning a score of 80 or above on Metacritic, while no other console has even 100 such titles (Metacritic data).

Number of users buying content on Xbox LIVE more than doubles

Xbox LIVE extends the range of home entertainment experiences with more than 30,000 pieces of entertainment content. This includes more than 18,000 movies, TV shows and music videos via the LIVE Video Marketplace and more than 12,000 videos streamed through an exclusive partnership with Netflix. The number of unique users buying content on Xbox LIVE more than doubled, soaring 128 percent in March over a year earlier, driven by Game Add-ons like “Fallout 3: The Pitt,” and blockbuster movies like “The Dark Knight” (Microsoft internal data).

Consumers get more entertainment on Xbox LIVE

2009 marks the year that we’ve take online console gaming and entertainment to new heights through downloadable games and Game Add-ons. Game Add-ons give Xbox 360 owners the ability to extend the life of their favorite games, whether it’s new song tracks for music games, “The Pitt” expansion for “Fallout 3” or the “Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack,” which launched April 9.

  • In the first three months of 2009, we’ve seen 220 percent growth in the number of users purchasing Game Add-ons over the same period last year (Microsoft internal data)
  • 63 games released 516 Game Add-ons on Xbox LIVE Marketplace in the first three months of 2009 – a 62 percent increase over the same period last year (Microsoft internal data)
  • Exclusive Game Add-ons to Xbox 360  include “Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and Damned,” “Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage,” “Fallout 3: The Pitt,” “Gears of War 2 Snowblind Map Pack,” and “Scene It? Box Office Smash!.”

Don’t say the P word or the S word or the P word.

Sony didn’t put out a release touting their sales numbers. I’m sure if one were to ask them they would say "the numbers clearly speak for themselves." So let’s look at those numbers.

The Playstation 2 (112K) and Playstation 3 (218K) combined to sell just as many units as the Xbox 360 and about half the number of Wii sold last month. Combined with PSP sales they almost matched the Nintendo DS sales figures (which were undoubtedly bolstered by the DSi launch).

The PS3 did manage to snag 3 of the top 10 games for the month including Resident Evil 5 (4th place with RE5 Xbox 360 #1 selling about half as many as the Xbox 360 did 938K to 585K), MLB 09: The Show (#6 305K), Killzone 2 (#7 296K). So that means for the top games in March the PS3 sold just over a million copies while the Xbox 360 did it with one game and then tacked on almost another million with 2 other titles.

It suddenly seems like it’s becoming a two horse race doesn’t it? NPD analyst, Anita Frazier disagrees with this saying, "The top-ten software list includes three games for each of the new platforms as well as Pokemon Platinum for the DS.  I think this shows that there doesn’t have to be one winner of the console battle - in fact software for all the platforms can enjoy retail success." Success yes, at the same level? Absolutely not.

All numbers courtesy of The NPD Group’s March 2009 U.S. Video Game Sales Charts

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