Game Consoles – September 2008 NPD Sales Figure Analysis

The September 2008 NPD sales figures are out, and there are some surprises. The holiday season is just starting, and the figures show a slight lift in sales compared to the last month. We are near the few months of the year when most consoles and games are sold, and we shall see who has positioned themselves best for this upcoming holiday season. You can read last month’s analysis here. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every month.

The figures for US sales in September are below, ranked in order of number of sales:

  • Wii: 687,000 (Total: 12.5 million)  
  • DS: 537,000 (Total: 22.5 million)  
  • Xbox 360: 347,000 (Total: 11.2 million)
  • PSP: 238,000 (Total: 12.7 million)
  • PS3: 232,000 (Total: 5.5 million)
  • PS2: 173,000 (Total: 42.8 million)
  • NPD September 2008 Game Console US Sales Figures

    NPD September 2008 Game Console US Sales Figures

    NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of September 2008)

    NPD Game Console Total US Sales Figures (as of September 2008)

     My prediction last month was:

    … the (Xbox 360) price cuts already done with, the momentum could swing back to the PS3 again. The Wii will sell well, and probably recover a bit just in time for the holiday season.

    I was right about the Wii, but I was wrong about the Xbox 360. As this month’s figures show, the price cuts had a huge effect on Xbox 360 sales. The surge it produced was enough to propel the Xbox 360 to the third most popular video game hardware, out-selling the PSP and the PS3.

    The Xbox 360 also out-sold the PS3 last month, but it was by a much smaller margin. I’m not sure price cuts are a long term solution, but for this holiday season at least, the Xbox 360 is positioned very well to compete with the PS3 and possibly even the Wii. Sony has already come out and said that they won’t cut PS3 prices this year, so I think Microsoft will emerge as the overall winner for 2008 in the war against the PS3. Microsoft is probably trying to achieve some sort of critical mass for the uptake of the Xbox 360, because if enough of your friends have Xbox 360’s, then you would want one too, wouldn’t you? The superior multiplayer system of the 360, despite not being free, will further drive this sort of “peer pressure”. If you want to a curr-gen console somewhat comparable to the PS3, good multiplayer support, a huge range of games at cheap prices (I saw older Xbox 360 hits like Dead Rising, Crackdown on sale for $10 this week … amazing value for hours and hours of fun), then the Xbox 360 is your only choice. The Wii is another, but only if you don’t care that your games look a bit crap on your 50″ HDTV. The Japanese sales figures which have shown the Xbox 360 out-selling the PS3 on its own turf is just the cherry on top, really.

    Sony on the other hand are probably not worried about PS3 sales being slightly flatter this year, or even the next. Remember, they’ve said they have a 10 year strategy for the PS3 and this is only the second year. They believe they can achieve something similar to the PS2, where even now, it is still selling in good quantities and there are now more than 42 million PS2s in the US alone. Of course, the PS3 is a completely different beast to the PS2, and if you want to compare apples to apples, then the Xbox 360 is positioned similarly to the PS2 and the PS3 is similar to the original Xbox – cheap, less powerful hardware with more games versus more expensive, more powerful hardware with less games. Will we ever see the mass upgrade of PS2s to PS3s? I think many of these people have already “upgraded” to the Xbox 360 as they were waiting for the PS3 to come down in price (or improve in title availability). Will they buy a PS3 as well? Maybe, or maybe they will buy a Wii instead. While I think Sony’s strategy is still safe for the time being, you cannot market the PS3 as a premium piece of equipment because people don’t really care about that, people just want good games at cheap prices. If anything, the Wii has been marketed is the exact opposite of the PS3, cheap hardware, but fun. When I think the PS3, I think superior Blu-ray player and multimedia hub, not a console you associate with “fun” (even the sleek black design doesn’t say “fun” to me, it reminds me of the monolith in 2001 to be honest). And with the economy the way it is, people are looking at saving money, not spending more even if it is a superior piece of kit.

    Speaking of the Wii, it continues to do well, and I don’t think this holiday period will be any different when it comes to demand (so get your orders in now while you still can, and don’t get left out like the last two holiday periods). The real success story of this year (and the last) has to be the Wii, because without a huge array of hit games, and without constant price drops, it has managed to remain top of the sales charts by a considerable margin. The ‘funness’ I alluded to earlier, and the fact that it isn’t expensive to start with is what I think has made it a success, and if anything, the downturn in economic conditions might help it sell more at the expense of more expensive consoles (mainly the PS3, as the Xbox 360 has become even cheaper).

    Moving on to software sales, the Xbox 360’s lead over the PS3 means it continues to do well whenever a big multi-platform game is released, and this month, it’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The Wii continues to do well of course, but even though it has more hardware in people’s homes than the Xbox 360, serious gamers (those that spend serious bucks) are still the ones with Xbox 360’s it seems. The PS3 had the poorest result of the year I think, with only a single title in the top 10, and that was Star Wars. Overall, 45.1% of the top 10 sales belonged to the Xbox 360, the Wii was close behind on 40.3%, the PS3 far behind with only 9.8% and a single PS2 title rounding off the month. Here’s the complete list of the top 10 software sales:

    1. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Xbox 360, LucasArts) – 610,000
    2. Wii Fit w/Board (Wii, Nintendo) – 518,000   
    3. Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360, MTV/EA) – 363,000
    4. Mario Kart w/ Wheel (Wii, Nintendo) – 353,000
    5. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3, LucasArts) – 325,000
    6. Mercenaries 2 (Xbox 360, EA) – 297,000
    7. Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii, Nintendo) – 243,000
    8. Madden NFL 09 (Xbox 360, EA) – 224,000
    9. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS2, LucasArts) – 223,000
    10. Madden NFL 09 (PS2, EA) – 158,000

    The next month should see an increase in sales all around, but I suspect it will be the same as this months in terms of the ranking, the Wii ahead by quite a bit, the Xbox 360 following with the PS3 third (in between are the portables, while the PS2 is sixth). Common sense really. See you next month.


    3 Responses to “Game Consoles – September 2008 NPD Sales Figure Analysis”

    1. Weekly News Roundup (26 October 2008) « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

      […] perspective, it’s great as it gives me something to write/rant about. I did manage to get the September NPD analysis up, and it’s good reading for Microsoft, and not so much for Sony, but more on that […]

    2. Game Consoles - October 2008 NPD Sales Figure Analysis « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

      […] full effect, plus LittleBigPlanet and how it did for the PS3. You can read last month’s analysis here. The figures are from NPD, a marketing research firm that releases games console sale data every […]

    3. Game Consoles – September 2009 NPD Sales Figure Analysis « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

      […] figures for US sales in September 2009 are below, ranked in order of number of sales (September 2008 figures also shown, including percentage […]

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