As widely expected, sales of the Wii console in the U.S. during January have exceeded both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as a result of continued high demand following the console’s launch last year and an improving stock situation.
According to analyst reports, console software sales for January were $549 million, up 53% compared to 2006. Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter noted of this impressive result: "It is important to note that January 2007 was a five-week period, compared to a four-week January last year. On a "normalized" basis, sales were up an estimated 22%."
January's overall game sales were led by Capcom's Lost Planet for the Xbox 360, which sold 329,000 units for the month. This was followed by Guitar Hero 2 for PlayStation 2 which sold 224,000, Gears of War, which sold through 212,000 units, Warioware: Smooth Moves for Wii at 201,000 units, and Resistance: Fall Of Man for PlayStation 3 at 188,000 units.
Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets commented, in his analyst note on the results: "As expected, sales of Xbox 360 and DS software titles were key drivers of the increase, along with the incremental contribution from PS3 and Wii titles, a rise in older generation PS2 software, as well as an extra week of sales in the data this year."
According to Wedbush Morgan's Pachter, there were much higher sales of next generation console and handheld (360, Wii, PS3, DS and PSP) software than expected. He noted: "Current generation software sales were -7% (down $16 million), less than our expectation of -12%, with a 16% increase in PS2 software sales much greater than we expected. Next generation software sales increased $207 million, $60 million above our estimate, with the bulk of the upside attributable to higher than expected console software sales."
Further information comes via a Bloomberg report, which cites NPD Group data obtained by Credit Suisse analyst Heath Terry, 436,000 Wii consoles were sold during January and the first week of February. The Xbox 360 was the second highest selling home console with 294,000 units sold, ahead of the PlayStation 3 at 244,000 units sold.
Pachter adds that through January, U.S. cumulative hardware sales for Xbox 360 were 4.8 million units, PS3 933,000 units, and Wii 1,516,000 units. The U.S. hardware installed base currently stands at 23.6 million next generation consoles (including handhelds) as of the end of January (up from 21 million at year-end 2006).
The top three games for each console were also revealed via analyst reports, as follows:
1. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition - Capcom
2. Gears Of War - Microsoft
3. Rainbow Six: Vegas - Ubisoft
1. Resistance: Fall Of Man - Sony
2. Madden NFL 07 - Electronic Arts
3. Fight Night Round 3 - Electronic Arts
1. Warioware: Smooth Moves - Nintendo
2. Zelda: Twilight Princess - Nintendo
3. Rayman Raving Rabbids - Ubisoft
1. Guitar Hero 2 w/guitar - Activision
2. Madden NFL 2007 - Electronic Arts
3. WWE Smackdown Vs. RAW 2007 - THQ
1. Zelda: Twilight Princess - Nintendo
2. Naruto: Clash Of Ninja 2 - D3Publisher of America
3. Lego Star Wars II - Lucasarts
1. New Super Mario Bros. - Nintendo (DS)
2. Mario Kart DS - Nintendo (DS)
3. Nintendogs: Dalmatian & Friends - Nintendo (DS)
Overall, Wii sales fell only moderately from its total of 604,000 units in December, while the PlayStation 3 fell from a previous total of 491,000. The Xbox 360 registered the sharpest drop in demand though, down from 1.13 million in December – when it was the best selling home console – to the 294,000 of January’s figures.
Other major hardware formats also sold well in January - the PlayStation 2 sold 299,000 units, the Nintendo DS sold through 239,000 units, the PSP sold 211,000 units, and the Game Boy Advance sold 179,000 units, with the Gamecube selling just 34,000 units.
Pachter's conclusion to the new results are as follows: "The first quarter of 2006 presents easy comparisons for 2007 (with PS2 software sales down 23%), with comps becoming more difficult thereafter (six double-digit positive months out of the remaining nine). With the prior eight months averaging an increase of 15%, we continue to believe that sales in January signal a continuation of growth, and we expect robust sales growth through March."