Nintendo beat everyone by a pretty sizable margin, and that, in fact, may be the most important news to take away from the latest NPD sales data. Last month Sony came within striking distance of the Wii in hardware unit sales -- a mere 5,000 units -- but this month Nintendo's well ahead by 151k units, lending credibility to the theory that Nintendo's drop was availability-related.
Before I go any further, the February 2008 numbers, courtesy the folks at NPD:
Hardware - February 2008
588k - Nintendo DS
432k - Nintendo Wii
352k - PlayStation 2
281k - PlayStation 3
255k - Xbox 360
243k - PlayStation Portable
Software - February 2008
296k - Call of Duty 4 (360)
295k - Devil May Cry 4 (360)
290k - Wii Play (Wii)
234k - Devil May Cry 4 (PS3)
223k - Guitar Hero III (Wii)
206k - Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games (DS)
204k - Lost Odyssey (360)
198k - Turok (360)
184k - Guitar Hero III (PS2)
162k - Rock Band (360)
- As a hardware brand, Nintendo dominated February with 1020k total hardware unit sales versus Sony's aggregate 876k, but in top 10 software sales, the 360 once again cleaned up, taking the lion's share with a whopping 1,155k units versus only 513k for the Wii and 234k for Sony (and that from a single game). You can make a strong argument that software -- as long as sales are sustained -- is what primarily matters, and to that extent, Microsoft continues to be the clear winner of this two-and-an-anomalous-third-plus-a-surprise-fourth horse race.
- Followup to the last point, Sony's sales almost have to be Blu-ray loaded. Two months with only a single chart topper each month? With HD DVD effectively dead, fence-sitters are buying Blu-ray players. The PS3 rates a steal of a deal if all you want is a machine to watch high-def movies, and I suspect that's where a lot of those sales are coming from. The flip side of that coin is that Sony could be looking at a lot of game-specific headroom to grow into if it lands a few critically acclaimed exclusives in 2008. (No pressure, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Gran Turismo 5.)
- Go Nintendo? I keep expecting Nintendo's boat to hit shallow water, but once again I'm eating my words and predictions. What's more, expect those numbers to go ballistic in March and April, between Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii.
- Go Nintendo DS! Over half a million sales and twice those of Sony's PSP. Between you and me, if I were a game developer, this is where I'd hitch my horse, no ifs, ands, or buts.
- Microsoft anticipated NPD's sales data by claiming earlier today that "supply issues" were why it sold fewer systems than Sony. Without independent verification of that claim -- and there's been nothing newsworthy to suggest it's either true or false -- I don't know if Microsoft's word is enough to go on, especially given the statement's proximity to the sales data. When Nintendo's Wii has supply constrains, it was in the news well before the sales data hit. For all the software Microsoft's selling, I've yet to visit a Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Gamestop, etc. that isn't brimming with 360s, or to read about a hardware shortage at any of the major retailers. NPD's Anita Frazier adds that "while hardware inventory issues at retail may still be lingering post-holiday, the fact that all now-gen systems generated significant year-over-year hardware sales increases indicates the situation is coming into balance faster than it did last year."
- In related news, video games sales are up 12% over last year. Now take the extra sales week in 2007 into account and sales are actually up 26%. And according to NPD's Anita Frazier, "Software sales are up 47% for the month of February and 43% for the year on a comparable weeks sales basis...with several marquee titles still to come in the front half of the year, the industry is poised to achieve another year of record-breaking sales despite difficult economic conditons." Even more great news for the games industry! Put that in your pipe and smoke it so-called "U.S. recession."
- Look at the PS2 go. I suppose it's not a total surprise given the notion that the PS2 competes in the same space as the Wii, and you also have to consider how many incredible games -- new and used -- are available for the system. Says NPD's Frazier: "I was most surprised by the PS2 hardware sales numbers this month...while it certainly has earned its spot among the now-gen slate of console systems because of it staying power in the marketplace, the fact that it realized such significant growth this month is really a testament to its broad adoption and the response of consumers to promotional activity at retail."