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NPD: Behind the Numbers, January 2009
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NPD: Behind the Numbers, January 2009

February 15, 2009 Article Start Page 1 of 6 Next

[In the industry's most-read NPD analysis, Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews looks at the state of the U.S. game market going into 2009, from Nintendo dominance through Call Of Duty's evolution.]

As 2009 opens, the video game industry is reorganizing itself. Publishers are restructuring and modifying product schedules, while some development houses have disbanded.

However, these are changes that the retail world will not feel for several months yet. Accordingly the modest sales growth from December 2008 has continued into the new year, and analysts expect modest gains to extend through much of 2009.

The reality is that Nintendo rules this industry. Hardware, software, and accessory sales for Nintendo's twin powerhouses, the Wii and Nintendo DS, accounted for nearly half of all revenue in 2008.

For the first month of the new year, Nintendo's platforms claimed nearly 52% of all industry dollars, up from 33% for the same period last year.

While Sony's platforms appear to be languishing, the Xbox 360 continues to sell hardware at historically high rates and is maintaining its robust software sales.

This year will likely determine whether publishers can continue to justify big budget cross-platform games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- even as Wii software dominates the top slots in the sales charts.

Nintendo Dodges Shortages, Microsoft Surges

During the second half of 2006, after the introduction of the Lite version of the Nintendo DS, headlines each month declared more extraordinary sales figures for the dual-screen handheld.

Since the introduction of the Nintendo Wii, whose sales have been just as remarkable, it has become nearly commonplace to see Nintendo leading both handhelds and consoles as new monthly figures are reported by the NPD Group.

The Nintendo Wii again led console sales in January 2009, as it did during the prior fifteen consecutive months. Coming down from the peak in December, Nintendo still managed to sell almost 170,000 systems per week, or nearly 2.5 times as many systems as it sold in January of the previous year.

In 2008, Nintendo appeared to struggle to supply Wii (and Nintendo DS) hardware during the first month of the year, and appears to have settled those issues for the beginning of 2009.

Jan 2009 Weekly Consoles Sales Rates

Microsoft sold over 77,000 Xbox 360 systems per week during the month, which should be considered quite strong.

By comparison, the only months during which the Xbox 360 has had a higher weekly sales rate were holiday months (Novembers and Decembers), the Halo 3 launch period (September and October 2007), and the strong October leading into the 2008 holiday season.

Article Start Page 1 of 6 Next

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Roberto Alfonso
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"(Personally, we suspect it was GH:WT for the PS2.)"

That sounds strange ;-)

About Call of Duty, the CoD4 is still one of the most played games in Xbox Live, so many users may not be willing to change the game. I would risk another reason: Wii steals sales from Xbox 360? The metacritic for both titles is similar (albeit the Xbox version was reviewed five more times). Note that I am not saying that someone will prefer the control of the Wii version over the graphics of the Xbox 360 one, but if you got both consoles, and already own Call of Duty 4, this new game adds very little according to reviews, so users may want to try the controls of the Wii version instead of buying just an upgrade to their current one.

Deuce Mojo
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Much love to PS3 owners, but this means one thing to me:

The difference between Sega and Sony is this -- Sony will lose billions of dollars, never admit defeat, eat it and smile. And it can.

But just as the Playstation was born of a rift between Nintendo and Sony, so will another star rise. Playstation was yesterday, Wii is today, who knows what comes tomorrow?

Saul Gonzalez
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We will never know for sure, but it is possible that if Nintendo had not released the Nintendo DS and the Wii, the U.S. game market would be currently displaying the downward trend that the Japanese market started to experience around 7 years ago.

Darryl Nevels
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All I going to say is Wii is God but the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are burn up. Because one was poorly made with the RED RING OF DEATH while the other unit started good with the PS2 but went overboard with the price and made the unit like a boat and I hear of PS3's breaking down........OK