Xbox, PlayStation Doing Well Despite Pressure From Nintendo’s New Wii U

The introduction of the Nintendo Wii U in November did very little to slow the momentum of other gaming platforms in the U.S., according to the NPD Group.

The research firm, which tracks spending at physical retail stores on a monthly basis, said last month was a particularly strong period for both hardware and software sales. In November, videogame sales totaled $2.6 billion, down 11 percent from the year-ago period, when sales totaled $2.9 billion — the smallest year-over-year decline so far in 2012.

There are two trends that are contributing to the drop off: One has to do with consumers shifting to other platforms, such as tablets and mobile phones, but the other has to do with how NPD tracks its data. It records sales that occur at retail, whereas a lot of consumers have started to purchase games digitally over the Internet. Still, looking at NPD’s data provides a broad picture of trends in the game industry.

Most telling last month was that sales have continued to be strong despite the fact that most of the hardware is six to seven years old, with the exception of Nintendo’s Wii U.

For comparison’s sake, NPD looked at how sales did last month compared to November 2005, which was the last time the industry began to transition between console generations. NPD Group Analyst Liam Callahan said retail game sales are nearly double what they were in November 2005. “This really demonstrates the long-term health of retail sales even as many platforms are quite late in their life cycles,” he said.

In addition, he said last month’s figures provide a very good sign of momentum going into the December holiday period.

Here are some of the findings from NPD’s November report, which tracked spending between Oct. 28 and Nov. 24:

  • Nintendo sold more than 1.75 million total hardware units, including nearly 910,000 portable game units and more than 845,000 original Wii and Wii U units. In particular, it sold 425,000 Wii U units during the seven days captured in the data.
  • Microsoft sold a jaw-dropping 1.26 million Xbox 360 units during the month, making it the No. 1 console maker for the 23rd consecutive month.
  • November was the second-highest month of sales on a unit basis for the PS Vita since it launched, fueled by bundling third-party content with the hardware.
  • Videogame software sales, including console and portable, totaled $1.43 billion, down 8 percent from the year ago period, when it totaled $1.6 billion. That represented the smallest unit decline this year, tied with August.
  • Half of the software sales in November were for the Xbox 360, which gained 8 percentage points in market share since last November.
  • Not surprising, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Black Ops 2 was the top selling game during the month. It reported yesterday that it hit $1 billion in sales in just 15 days.

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