[The leading analysis column for NPD's North American game industry stats returns with a look at February 2009's trends, from Xbox 360 sales to software surprises.]
Through February 2009, Nintendo's DS and Wii continued to dominate hardware sales while software for those systems continued to rule the top software lists, according to the latest NPD Group data released on Thursday.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 built momentum from its strong showing in January, and also made a strong showing in the top 20 software. Meanwhile Sony's platforms uniformly lost ground, although the exclusive Killzone 2 made a strong showing on the PlayStation 3 with only two days of sales.
Nintendo's Wii had strong sales again in February 2009, with 753,00 systems sold, or a rate of over 188,000 systems per week. Microsoft's Xbox 360 was Nintendo's strongest competitor with sales of 391,000 systems for the month or 97,750 per week.
When this generation of hardware was fully underway – at the end of November 2006 – the Xbox 360 enjoyed a full year lead while Nintendo and Sony were just getting their hardware out to the market. Before the Wii and PlayStation 3 launched, the Xbox 360 had 100% of the current generation console hardware base.
The graph below shows how each system's share of the hardware base has changed over time. (The data is given quarterly, to smooth out month-to-month and seasonal variations.)
Points of interest are marked with letters on the graph.
A: Sony moves first on price, first with reduction of the 60GB system to $500, and then the introduction of the $400 model with a 40GB hard drive and no PlayStation 2 backward compatibility. Sony's marketshare begins to increase.
B: The Wii officially overtakes the Xbox 360 in hardware share.
C: Microsoft's price cut strategy begins to pay off, slowing the loss of marketshare to its competitors. PlayStation 3 share drops for the first time, from 19% to 18%.
As we near the end of the first quarter of 2009, the Wii stands within a few percentage points of the 50% mark. However, more robust sales of the Xbox 360 and modest (but flagging) sales of the PlayStation 3 have slowed the growth of the Nintendo consoles share, at least by this measure.