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[In a Gamasutra-exclusive analysis, we analyze U.S. game hardware and software numbers for the whole of 2008, discovering surprising multi-year growth comparisons and marketshare changes.]
The United States videogame market grew to $21.3 billion in 2008 according to industry figures released by the NPD Group on Thursday of last week. That marks a nearly 19% increase over the previous record of $18.0 billion set in 2007 and a doubling of annual revenue since 2005.
Yet, as industry analyst Anita Frazier noted in comments which accompanied the NPD Group's release, “This is not a case of the rising tide lifting all boats.”
As the figures detailed below will demonstrate, “the increases are not being enjoyed equally by all manufacturers and publishers.”
For yet another month Nintendo's two platforms – the Wii console and the Nintendo DS handheld – dominated hardware sales.
While the 2.15 million Wii systems sold in December was well below many analyst estimates, it was still far ahead of the competition and up 59% year-on-year. For the year, Wii system sales increased to 10.2 million, up from 6.3 million in 2007.
Over 3 million Nintendo DS handhelds were sold during December, and annual DS sales are now as follows:
Nintendo's December DS tally was an industry record for monthly sales of a system in a single month and a 23% year-on-year increase from December 2007. (The previous single-month hardware sales record was 2.7 million systems by Sony's PlayStation 2 in December 2002.)
As for the competition, Sony controls two consoles, the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, as well as a handheld, the PlayStation Portable.
During its eighth full calendar year on the market, 2.5 million PS2 systems were sold, down 36% from 3.9 million in the prior year. Monthly sales in December 2008 fell an even sharper 63% to 410,000.
Here's Gamasutra's specially compiled yearly hardware sales for all systems for 2007 and 2008:
Conversely, the PS3 increased its annual sales from 2.6 million systems to 3.5 million for 2008, somewhat offsetting the loss of PS2 sales. However, PS3 sales for the final month of the year were actually down from 798,000 units in 2007 to 726,000 units in 2008.
Sales of the PSP handheld were flat year-on-year at 3.8 million units, making it the best selling of all three PlayStation systems in 2008.
The third platform holder, Microsoft, saw sales of its Xbox 360 console jump over 14% year-on-year for the month of December, from 1.26 million systems to 1.44 million systems.
However the Xbox 360 was only up from 4.6 million units during calendar year 2007 to 4.7 million during 2008. Without the dramatic increase in sales after Microsoft's August 2008 price drops, the system might well have recorded lower sales in 2008 than in 2007.