Nintendo's grip on the videogame market has never been more evident than last Thursday, when the NPD Group released sales data for November, the first month of the 2008 holiday shopping season. Consumers purchased 2 million Wii consoles, 1.5 million Nintendo DS handhelds, and more than $700 million of software for the two systems combined.
This isn't to say there weren't bright spots for Sony and Microsoft, but they're much smaller accomplishments by comparison. Furthermore, even dominant software publishers like Electronic Arts are having difficulty finding a market for their newest wares.
Overall industry sales for the month were up 10 percent, and year-on-year and year-to-date sales are still up 22 percent, but much of that growth was realized earlier in 2008. Analysts had expected the industry to reach a total annual revenue of $22 - $24 billion, but it now appears that the industry may not even reach the low end of that range.
According to the NPD Group's data, 2.04 million Nintendo Wii consoles were sold during the four-week tracking period ending 29 November 2008. No platform in history has ever sold as many systems in November as the Wii did this year.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 enjoyed robust sales of 836,000 systems, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent. Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter, has said that the system's average sale price (ASP) during November was $270. That marks a slight decrease from September and October, and indicates that the $200 Xbox 360 Arcade model is attracting more consumers.
Sony sold 378,000 PlayStation 3 systems during the month, a disappointing decrease from last year's total of 466,000 systems. Sony currently offers the highest-priced console (from $400 to $500, depending on the specifications) -- and is consequently selling fewer systems.
It is standard to compare average weekly sales rates to account for the different number of weeks in the monthly tracking periods.
Console unit sales often more than double from October to November, and in fact Xbox 360 sales were up 120 percent from the previous month and Wii sales were up 154 percent. The PlayStation 3 just missed doubling its October sales, with a growth of just 98 percent month-on-month.
The only other system not to double its October sales in November was the PlayStation 2, which saw an increase of only 51 percent. Nintendo DS sales jumped 220 percent from the prior month and PlayStation Portable (PSP) sales were up 118 percent.