Game console sales show unexpected strength

Chicago (IL) – Recession? What recession? February brought the sixth best unit sales result for game console makers since November 2006. Nintendo and Microsoft posted substantial increases over February last year. PS3 sales dropped year-over year, but are also stronger than in recent months, according to market research firm NPD.

Game console companies, especially Nintendo, claimed that the recession may play in their favor as consumers are saving their dollars and spend more money on (cheaper) home entertainment. And if February U.S. shipments are any indication, that prediction may not be far from the truth.

Nintendo led the pack once again with 753,000 Wiis sold (compared to 588,000 in February 2008), followed by Microsoft with 391,000 Xbox 360 units (255,000). Sony came in third with 276,000 PS3s, which is below the February 2008 result of 281,000 – but clearly above the performance between July and October 2008 (non-holiday sales months), during which Sony struggled to make the 200,000 mark

Microsoft was especially strong and improved its market share to 27.5% in February, while Nintendo dropped to 53.0%. Sony climbed to 19.4%.

Overall, Nintendo has sold 19.1 million Wiis in the U.S. so far, Microsoft 14.6 million Xbox 360s and Sony 7.3 million PS3. Combined console sales topped 40 million in February and now stand at 40.96 million. Over the lifetime of all three  consoles, Nintendo currently leads with a 46.7% share, Microsoft has 35.6% (thanks to its 1-year advantage on the market) and Sony 17.7%.

A total of 1.42 million sold game consoles in February means that this was the sixth best month for game console makers since November 2006 (when the PS3 and Wii were introduced) and the best month if the holiday sales months of November and December are excluded.