There has been a lot of good sales news for the industry over the past month. Enough numbers have been released that PR people from all three console manufacturers are able to claim some victory. We have all grown accustomed to hearing that Nintendo’s grandparent-friendly hardware is setting the world ablaze, but recent information has shown that its competitors may be gearing up to offer a viable challenge. The biggest headline probably has to be the fact that Nintendo DS sales set the record for most systems ever purchased in a single week with 653,000. This, combined with 350,000 Wiis sold during the same period adds up to…a lot of stuff sold by Nintendo during Thanksgiving week. The Wii is still supply constrained so it’s tough to say how many units Nintendo could be moving, but the Wii reached five million units in the US sold faster than any other system in history, doing so in a mere 12 months.
This game sold almost 600k in one week. Also, not this version of this game.
News has been almost as good for Sony (and the way things had been going for those guys, almost as good basically means much better). November is a five week month for sales purposes, but through the first four of those weeks the PS3 had outsold the Wii in Japan. The count was relatively close (183k to 159k) and has not really cut into Nintendo’s overall lead, but it is of the symbolic importance that the Wii is not invincible.
Also, while I disagree with the proposal that the PSP is well on its way to surpassing the DS in total sales, the fact remains that the new PSP has been very successful since launch. This link enumerates a few reasons why they think the PSP will eventually reign supreme, but they have almost definitely jumped the gun. There are several reasonable explanations for stellar PSP sales, and not all of them spell doom for Nintendo. For example, the release of a new edition seems to always rejuvenate sales of a system. The DS sold 2.2 million in the fiscal quarter (granted that’s three months, not two) in Japan following the release of the Lite. Also, there is a good chance that since one-sixth of the country owns a DS already, the market is becoming saturated. There just aren’t that many potential customers left in Japan. Nevertheless, Japanese people seem to be spending their hard earned yen on Sony products almost as frequently as they are spending them on Nintendo products these days.
Unfortunately, I cannot offer Microsoft any good news from the land of the Rising Sun. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the 360, largely because of Halo 3, may be making some inroads in Japan, but sales there still lag behind the competition by orders of magnitude. They have, however, had a strong showing in North America, and Microsoftclaims the 360 has outsold the PS3 2:1 during Thanksgiving week. This statement did not escape controversy, as Sony has complained that Microsoft has the numbers wrong, but does concede that their product was outsold over the period.
While it has been difficult for me to piece together all of the information required to understand Sony’s claim that sales are up 300%, it is apparent that the PS3 had a good November in North America as well. Sony seems to shift their ground a bit in the statistical release, arbitrarily comparing one period to another. As someone who is not generally held accountable for what I say, I think that Sony basically said a lot of words that made their sales sound spectacular and was hoping against hope no one would evaluate them too carefully. I will give them credit for their increased sales, but ask that they try to make their statistical releases less baffling and manipulative in the future.