Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all had a relatively good month, all things said, though

After dropping the previously required "always-on" Kinect 2 sensor, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) managed to create a new Xbox One SKU at $100 USD less than the original price ($499 USD).  Importantly, the Kinect-free Xbox One SKU now costs the same amount as a Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) PlayStation 4, which previous enjoyed the price edge.

The strategy paid off; Microsoft in June doubled its sales from May.  But just two days after crowing about its turnaround, Microsoft still finds itself behind Sony.

The NPD Group  -- a top market research firm -- has just released its June sales numbers.  And it turns out that despite doubling its sales, it still was outsold by the PS4 in June.  Overall hardware sales were up 200 percent month-to-month, according to the NPD.  That indicates that the PS4 posted a nice sales speedup of its own, and even Nintendo Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7974) got in on the action.

Nintendo's Mario Kart 8 seized second place on the software sales charts, with 470k physical and digital copies.  That brings its total haul to 1.67m, if you consider console bundles, or 885k if you consider individual digital and physical SKUs only.  That hints that in May and June Nintendo sold roughly 800,000 consoles in May and June -- or roughly 400,000 a month.  If accurate, that's a big story of its own as it marks a dramatic recovery for the struggling console.  

Nintendo's social gaming title for the 3DS, Tomodachi Life, debuted in 7th place after making its long await U.S. debut (and despite controversy around Nintendo's refusal to support same sex relationships in the current version)


The two titles were the only single-platform titles to make the top 10, hinting that Nintendo is seeing strong payoff on the software side for the Wii U console.  Nintendo of America sales and marketing VP Scott Moffitt cheered:

These results reinforce the power of the Mario Kart franchise and speak to a bright future for the Wii U platform.  History has shown that Mario Kart games tend to have an extremely long tail. We fully expect Mario Kart 8 to continue to drive momentum for our hardware and software business through the holidays and into the foreseeable future.

With new Smash Brothers, Metroid, Zelda, Mario, and Donkey Kong titles on the horizon, Nintendo could be poised for a watershed few quarters when that software lands.

And in first place, yet again, was WatchDogs, the blockbuster techno-thriller from France's Ubisoft Entertainment SA (EPA:UBI).  With 8 million copies sold, the open-world cyberpunk hacking action-RPG sensation almost single-handedly propelled Ubisoft past its arch-rival Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA), for the title of the world's largest game publisher.


Also of interest was Minecraft's ability to cling to the #3 spot on the game sales charts despite only being available for last generation's Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3.

While Sony's sales win may be a blow to Microsoft's pride and bragging rights, it's increasingly looking like both it and Sony are enjoy a terrific generation of consoles.  NPD analyst Liam Callahan commented:

The 106 percent increase in hardware sales versus June 2013 was lifted entirely by console hardware sales, which were up by over 200 percent.  The strong sales performance of console hardware helped to offset the declines seen in portable hardware.  Combined sales of Xbox One and PS4 are over 80 percent higher than the combined totals for Xbox 360 and PS3 – an indication of the strength of the start of this new console generation.

Evidence is strong that Nintendo, too, is enjoying this fertile era of gaming.  And that means this generation of consoles is one of the only ones to feature three viable contenders and no market casualties.

Sources: NPD Group, via VentureBeat

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