For the first time in the competition between the two, the PlayStation 3 has outsold Xbox 360, according to NPD's January North American hardware and software sales figures, in a month otherwise topped again by the Wii and the Xbox 360 version of Activision's Call of Duty 4.
Overall, the entire video game market -- both hardware and software -- accounted for $1.18 billion in December, down six percent from the year prior. NPD notes, however, that January 2007 was a five versus four week reported period, and properly adjusted sales were up an average 18 percent on a week-by-week basis.
Hardware numbers were down 25 percent to $377.8 million, with, for the first time, the PlayStation 3 outselling all other consoles and handhelds apart from the Wii, which carried a thin lead to the top slot. The PlayStation Portable and the Xbox 360 tied for the bottom slots on the charts, with Microsoft having said before results hit that it is experiencing hardware shortages following its holiday period.
[UPDATE: In a separate release arriving alongside the NPD figures, Microsoft commented: "Our retailers are telling us that Xbox 360 is selling as fast as they can restock, but due to this high demand, Xbox 360 is experiencing temporary shortages. We are working as quickly as we can to replenish inventory."]
On the software side, January sales were up 11 percent to $610.6 million, despite the shorter reporting period, with Activision's Call of Duty 4 again topping the charts, followed by Wii Play and the Wii version of Guitar Hero III.
The Xbox 360 version of EA/Criterion's Burnout Paradise debuted on the charts at number seven, the sole January release to make the top ten, and Rock Band made its first top ten debut at number four, making it, according to the NPD, the top selling game in dollar terms for the month.
The full rundown is as follows:
1. Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360, Activision) - 330.9K
2. Wii Play w/remote (Wii, Nintendo) - 298.1K
3. Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock w/guitar (Wii, Activision) - 239.6K
4. Rock Band (Xbox 360, MTV/Harmonix) - 183.8K
5. Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock w/guitar (Xbox 360, Neversoft/Activision) - 182.7K
6. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo) - 172K
7. Burnout Paradise (Xbox 360, EA) - 144.1K
8. Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360, Activision) - 140K
9. Mario Party (DS, Nintendo) - 138.5K
10. Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games (DS, Sega) - 133K
NPD added that the software markets rise was due in large part to the pricing of its software. "The average retail price of games is up 19% from last January and much of that can be attributed to Rock Band and Guitar Hero," the company said, adding, "In fact, 360 Rock Band was the top-selling game in dollar terms, bringing in $30 million in sales for the month."
[UPDATE: Additional color and detail was brought via a Sony announcement following the NPD results, in which the firm revealed that PlayStation Network downloads exceeded 7.9 million in January 2008, well above the 6.6 million in December 2007.
In addition, it was noted that currently in North America there are more than 2.9 million registered PlayStation Network accounts and more than 52M total downloads life-to-date from PlayStation Store.
Jack Tretton, CEO of SCEA, commented of the results: "Coming off a great holiday sales season we see strong momentum behind PS3 in 2008, and feel confident about the year ahead... we have Blu-ray emerging as the de facto high def standard, the developer community is hitting their stride, consumers are recognizing the tremendous value and innovative services such as PlayStation Home are all in the works, so this is definitely shaping up to be a breakthrough year for us."]