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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 Previous Page 6 of 6

As noted earlier, Microsoft's software continues to sell well, and according to Microsoft, it has maintained its tie ratio of 8.1 software titles per console owner. That puts Xbox 360 software unit sales near 115 million units after 39 months on the market.

The dearth of PlayStation software in the top 30 is a danger sign for Sony. Not only does it suggest a rapidly slowing PlayStation 2 software market, but an essential weakness in PlayStation 3 software sales. A platform as expensive to develop for as the PlayStation 3 likely cannot lead a healthy existence with only one title in the top 30.

As we have suggested previously, Sony may have fought two wars simultaneously with the same weapon -- the PlayStation 3 -- and subsequently been defeated in both.

The PlayStation 3 appears to have played a significant role in Blu-ray player penetration and driving the market for cheaper players. Yet, those same consumers may have little or no interest in PlayStation 3 software.

With the current weakness in HDTV and Blu-Ray player sales, Sony is saddled with a an expensive product that is rapidly losing relevance in both the video and videogame markets.

Call of Duty Sales, in Detail

For two years running, Activision's Call of Duty series has enjoyed very strong sales. However, there are a few points one can make about sales of the previous iteration of the game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the latest version, Call of Duty: World at War.

Consider the following figure showing sales of each of these games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for the first three months after release: 

Call of Duty Series Sales

As the figure above demonstrates, Call of Duty: World at War did not sell quite as well as its predecessor during this crucial sales period.

Moreover, the results for the two platforms were mixed: sales for World at War were up on the PS3 compared to CoD4, while sales for World at War dropped on the Xbox 360 from the level set by CoD4.

Yet, Call of Duty: World at War on current generation consoles is still ahead of Call of Duty 4 during the analogous period. The key here is the Wii port, which is known to have sold in excess of 366,000 units during December 2008.

The Wii version appeared at #19 on January's top 20 list, and these additional sales will no doubt encourage Activision to produce another Wii port for any future Call of Duty titles.

[As always, many thanks to the NPD Group for its monthly release of the videogame industry data. Additional credit is due to Mr. Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, for his industry analysis. Thanks also to Cowen and Company. Moreover, thanks to my colleagues at Gamasutra and on NeoGAF for many helpful discussions.]

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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