[In this exclusive analysis, Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews looks in more detail at October's NPD U.S. game hardware/software sales, revealing guitar wars, top-selling games so far this year, and much more.]
Despite the increasingly pessimistic outlook for the American
economy, the videogame industry defied gravity – again – and
reported a 17% year-on-year increase in revenue for the month of
With three established current generation consoles, much of
the focus has shifted to software releases like Guitar Hero: World
Tour and Fable II.
Regardless, when over 800,000 Wii systems sell
during October and Xbox 360 sales are up 34% from September,
hardware still has its own story to tell.
Nintendo Up, Microsoft Up, Sony Flat
The holiday season appears to have come early for Nintendo and
Microsoft, with sales of the Wii and Xbox 360 very strong headed into
the two biggest retail months of the year. In particular, an
astounding 803,000 Wii systems were sold in October, the largest
monthly sales number for that platform outside of November and
That figure represents 55% growth from October of last
year and an increase of 46% from the rate last month (up to 200,000
systems per week, versus 137,000 in September).
While Microsoft's Xbox 360 still trails the Wii, it still posted a
strong month. The September price cuts appear to be lifting sales for
a second month in a row, with October sales reaching nearly 93,000
systems per week.
While the console only marked a 1% increase over
last year's October, the comparison is somewhat unfair: Microsoft had
just cut prices in August 2007 and released Halo 3 in late September.
When compared to the previous month, September 2008, sales in October
of this year were up 34%.
Last year Nintendo and Microsoft saw sales of their respective
consoles roughly double going from October to November. If that were
to hold true again this year, Microsoft would look very well, but
Nintendo would hit nearly unbelievable levels, well over 1.5 million
systems in November.
The nearest comparison in recent memory would be
last November when the Nintendo DS hit 1.5 million units (following
up with nearly 2.5 million in December).
Sony's PlayStation 3 once again brings up the rear for current
generation hardware, with 47,500 systems per week during October
2008. That means Sony's sales rate has been nearly constant for three
months running, but in particular it does not show the increasing
sales enjoyed by its competitors.
In fact, Sony's consistent,
low-intensity sales have allowed Microsoft's Xbox 360 to catch up in
As of the end of August the PlayStation 3 enjoyed
a 277,000 system YTD lead over the Xbox 360, but at the end of
October the roles were reversed with Microsoft enjoying a lead of just over 18,000 systems.