Nintendo shatters game console shipment records

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) –  Nintendo has never seen a more successful month of game console shipments than November 2008: We knew before the release of NPD’s November 2008 numbers that Nintendo was on track break its November 2007 U.S. sales record of 981,000 sold Wiis, but it we were stunned to see that the company was apparently able move more than 2 million consoles last months. Microsoft also had an excellent month, but Sony’s PS3 is clearly trailing its rivals at this time: Only one out of ten game consoles sold was a PS3 in November. Extra: Shipment and Market Share Charts.  



Considering the state of the economy, NPD’s November 2008 game console shipment estimates are a big surprise. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony shipped 3,254,000 last month (excluding mobile consoles), which compares to only 2,217,000 units in November and translates to a 47% increase in shipped units year over year and 139% sequentially. However, only Nintendo and Microsoft were able to sell more consoles; Sony’s shipments saw a sharp drop.

November U.S. sales: Wii outsells Xbox 360 2:1 and the PS3 5:1

Microsoft may have made the most noise after Black Friday, but it was Nintendo that dominated the month and creamed both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. 2,040,000 Wiis were sold in the U.S. in November, according to NPD – which is up from 981,000 units in November 2007 and even shattered the best month of the Wii so far - December 2007 - which saw sales of 1,350,000 units. The Wii is the first game console to break the 2-million barrier.

The Xbox 360 also had a great month with sales of an estimated 836,000 units, ahead of the November 2007 result of 770,000. It was the best month for the Xbox in 2008 so far. The PS3 has been struggling and November indicates that Sony needs figure out an effective product strategy rather sooner than later. 378,000 PS3s were sold in November, which is almost twice the number of PS3s sold in October in the U.S. However, Sony sold 466,000 PS3s in November of last year and continues a rather dramatic market share decline when compared to its rivals.

Game sales were equally impressive in November. Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) moved 1,560,000 units, followed by 1,410,000 units of Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360), 796,000 units of Wii Play, 697,000 units of Wii Fit and 637,000 units of Mario Kart (Wii). The best selling title for the PS3 was Call of Duty: World at War, which sold 597,000 times, according to NPD. Nintendo had five titles among the ten best-selling games in November, the Xbox 360 3 and the PS3 2.          

Read on the next page: Lifetime sales - Nintendo Wii sells 15 million units in two years


Lifetime sales: Nintendo Wii breaks 15 million barrier

November gave the Wii a big bump in lifetime sales as well. According to NPD, Wii shipments in the U.S. have tooped 15,546,000 units. Since its launch in November 2006, Nintendo has been selling 648,000 Wiis every month on average – a volume the Xbox 360 exceeded only twice within the past 24 months and the PS3 only once.

In comparison, the Xbox 360 sold “only” 7,864,900 units in its first two years and now stands at a cumulative 12,420,000 units in the U.S., NPD said. The PS3 sold 6,062,000 consoles in the U.S. so far – which is not only behind the Wii, but is also 23% below the two-year result of Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

Sony has no more room for error left and may need a miracle to be able to close the gap with Microsoft. The Blu-ray player of the PS3 is not a convincing purchase reason for the console anymore, especially since Blu-ray players can be purchased for less than $200 these days. Given the Xbox 360’s age, it is amazing to see that Sony has not found a way to surpass Xbox 360 shipments yet.

Market share: PS3 looking for ground under its feet

It should not come as a surprise that Nintendo’s impressive November result brought a bump in market share as well – the Wii captured 62.7%, which was up from 58.9% in October and up from 44.2% in November 2007. The strong showing of the Xbox 360 limited Nintendo’s gains and kept Nintendo’s share below the record level 65.6% in April of this year. But Microsoft’s success was not enough to maintain the Xbox 360’s market share level, which dropped from 27.2% in October to 25.7% in November.

The PS3 drowned in November and fell from 13.9% in October to only 11.6% in November. In comparison, the PS3 held 21.0% in November of last year and climbed as high as 31.4% earlier this year (June).