PlayStation 3 beats all but the Wii during January hardware sales

Holiday sales figures for gaming console hardware were predictable. Nintendo Wii was at the top, Xbox 360 somewhere in the middle and the PlayStation 3 near the bottom. But 2008 is a new year and so far looks nothing at all like 2007 – except, of course, the Wii is still number one.

Nintendo’s console sold the most in North America with 274,000 units, likely still selling out whatever is shipped to retailers.

Believe it or not, second place belongs to the PlayStation 3, selling 269,000, just 5,000 fewer units than the Wii. The PS2 wasn’t far behind either, with 264,000.

The handheld systems occupied places fourth and fifth, with the Nintendo DS moving 251,000 and the PSP doing 230,000.

Surprisingly, the Xbox 360 tied for last place with 230,000 units for the month. Microsoft told the press before the release of NPD data that its console recently experienced shortages.

"You could say we misjudged demand ... We're literally out of stock in many stores," Jeff Bell, head of global marketing for Microsoft's games business, said in Reuters story. "We think this will have an impact on our sales. It may cause the overall industry number to be down a little bit ... Retailers have been really upset, they are on allocation. It is a lag I think we're seeing in January and that may continue into February, then as spring ramps up, we'll be able to meet that demand."

Sony, on the other hand, appeared to be exceptionally pleased at its excellent placement in January. The PlayStation 3 finds itself in unfamiliar territory being near the top. One possible explanation could be that the Warner Bros. announcement regarding exclusive Blu-ray Disc support pushed those on the fence to finally pick up a PlayStation 3. Another reason could be that, with the PS3 being the bottom seller during December 2007, there was still plenty of stock remaining in retail channels to make up for shortages of other systems.

Regardless, Sony was happy to boast that its PlayStation brand as a whole generated the most U.S. retail dollars in the industry with $486 million, 25 percent higher than Nintendo and 61 percent higher than Microsoft.

“Coming off a great holiday sales season we see strong momentum behind PS3 in 2008,and feel confident about the year ahead. We have an exceptionally diverse lineup of exclusive games, from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance 2 to more mainstream games such as LittleBigPlanet and SingStar,” Said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. “Beyond that, we have Blu-ray emerging as the de facto high def standard, the developer community is hitting their stride, consumers are recognizing the tremendous value and innovative services such as PlayStation Home are all in the works, so this is definitely shaping up to be a breakthrough year for us.”

Despite January being a typically slower month in the videogame industry, the first month of 2008 was up 18 percent as compared to the same period last year, with games leading at 50 percent higher. Overall, the U.S. games industry pulled in $1.18 billion in sales during January.

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