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Consoleation: December 2010 console gaming sales data

Peter Skerritt's picture

Call of Duty: Black Ops Screenshot

I wanted to log some quick reactions to the hardware sales numbers that I've been seeing across the web that were released recently.

First, here are the numbers for December, as I've seen them:

  1. Nintendo DS: 2,500,000 units sold
  2. Nintendo Wii: 2,360,000 units sold
  3. Xbox 360: 1,860,000 units sold
  4. PlayStation 3: 1,210,000 units sold

These results fall into line with what I expected, for the most part. Microsoft admitted that supply constraints hurt them in December, which I anticipated would happen. Nintendo managed to capitalize on this and come away 500,000 units ahead. Sony, meanwhile, managed to post a decent number of PS3 sales… but was still over a million units behind the leader.

Microsoft should be happy with its results overall. The Xbox 360 was the only console to sell more units in 2010 than in 2009, which is more impressive when you consider how much effect that lingering recessionary effects have had on the economy. It's no secret that Kinect has been huge for Microsoft in Q4, bolstered by strong marketing and word of mouth. You have to wonder what might have been possible if Microsoft hadn't run into supply issues in December. I still think that the Wii would have won out, but the final tally would have been a lot closer between the two. It's clear that, although Wii still outsold the Xbox 360 overall in 2010, momentum is on Microsoft's side heading into 2011. Without the "newness" factor for hardware like the slimmer Xbox 360 and the Kinect, Microsoft will be challenged to deliver a varied and strong software lineup to stay in the driver's seat.

Gran Turismo 5 Screenshot

Nintendo righted the Wii ship a little with decent December in terms of sales. Comparatively speaking, however, Nintendo's victory was hollow when you notice that Wii sales were down a whopping 38% year-over-year (YOY). Put that number next to a 42% increase YOY for the Xbox 360 and you can argue that Nintendo wasn't a winner at all. What surprised me about Nintendo's performance is that Super Mario All-Stars didn't seem to be a factor. The best selling Wii game, which ranked 2nd overall for December, was Just Dance 2. Donkey Kong Country Returns ranked 5th, and Epic Mickey finished in a respectable 6th place, moving over 1.3 million units. January looks to be challenging for Nintendo and the Wii as there no significant software is slated for release on the platform in January. Conversely, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 each have pretty big releases this month. It's not only possible for the Xbox 360 to pull back out in front this month, but the PlayStation 3 could surprise.

Speaking of the PlayStation 3, the good news is that over 1.2 million units were sold. The bad news is that the PlayStation 3 still finished dead last in overall sales. Gran Turismo 5 did move over 550,000 units, but that number is underwhelming when you consider the time of year that the game was released. The best thing for Sony to do now is forget about 2010 and focus on the year at hand. If all of the first-party titles on Sony's slate for 2011 actually make their deadlines, this could be a bit of a comeback year. Killzone 3 and MLB 11 look good in Q1, and then Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3 should hit it big in Q4. I still believe that a price drop sometime in 2011 is going to be key for Sony to make any kind of competitive move against Microsoft and Nintendo… but we'll see if that actually comes to fruition.

December was another great month for Call of Duty: Black Ops, which was the best-selling game of 2010 despite being available for only 52 days. With the first map pack due on February 1st, look for sales to stay steady or slightly increase this month—especially late. Just Dance 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood also continued to sell extremely well, and I expect that trend to continue this month, although I do expect numbers to decrease at least slightly. The software sales chart had three Wii exclusives on it, which was most likely a good reason why Nintendo wound up back on top with the Wii. I think that Just Dance 2 will keep selling well, but the longevity of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Epic Mickey is far less certain. Epic Mickey's strong sales bode well, I think, for January's results as I expect one more Top 10 finish.

Feel free to react and comment below. Who do you like to be on top this month? Can Sony turn things around with Little Big Planet 2 and Mass Effect 2? Can Microsoft maintain their momentum? I'd love to hear your take.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   Nintendo DS   PSP   PC  
Articles: Columns  
Topic(s): Business  

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Nice round numbers...

Interesting that all the consoles sold nice round numbers! :)

Seriously though, just wanted to comment that I enjoy reading these articles. I have no stake in the sales of consoles or games, nor do I really care who is the "winner" of the console war, but there's a bit of nerd in me that enjoys reading about sales numbers.

Lastly, just wanted to comment on the sales of the DS. That alone should make Nintendo the "winner". Still amazing that the handheld continues to sell as well as it does this long in the life of the DS. I will interested to see what happens when the 3DS is released later this year. Will the original continue to sell well? How well will the 3DS sell? Maybe both will just be grouped together?

Nintendo has missed its chance

Nintendo has missed the time to lower the price of the wii. They should have done it before the launch of the 3DS (I'd say not later than November 2010) and after the launch of the 3DS announce the next stationary console for 2012, latest at TGS. The numbers are still top, but motion control is not their exclusive feature anymore and beside announced Zelda (that imo might not come for wii) they seem to have nothing in the store anymore and will hardly get sudden 3rd party support with good games.

MS had more will to aggressively lower their price, although the 4GB version is imo an expensive to be upgraded device. But their line up for 2011 is not well, exclusives seem to be another Gears and some certainly coming xbla titles. They must be happy to be able to squeeze their Live-fans and live some months in the motion control hype but MS as a publisher seems to be incompetent. (Also as the "we support PC games" jokesters.)

This is their second console and beside some formerly PC developers which moved their ambition to the Box but increasingly do multi platform (and rare which is only a shadow of themselves) they have not built Microsoft Game Studios that's a real equivalent to Nintendo's in house studios or the SCE network.

The line-up of the PS3 is great this year with some hits throughout the entire year but nevertheless they must lower the price with a 3rd revision of the Slim (or the current 2nd). HW sales might go up with probably coming piracy and it's questionable if they can profit from that like some pro hack/open everything/ pro piracy people think. The HW might be 100% piracy open shortly, no chip and no self made discs necessary, storage problem only for the 20GB owners. They might get an increase in HW sales but loose in SW when it's that easy as i think it will be. And that didn't work with the PSP either.

I don't think it matters if

I don't think it matters if the WII sales well now NIN has made a butt load of money off it due to making money off console sales and having the lower console price.

Anyone know if the 360 has broke even yet on the hardware costs?

The PS3 is doing well even if like MS huge mistakes were made.

All in all I wish there is new WII hardware with upscaleing.... anyone know of good hardware that dose good time sensitive upscaleing?

Too much Mario!

ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Anyone know if the 360 has broke even yet on the hardware costs?

Microsoft may have deliberately restricted supply to keep prices high and raise profits... depends on how price-sensitive consumers are, but given Kinect was the big thing in December, I strongly believe that those that really wanted to be first on the uptake would have been prepared to pay a premium, and those that didn't (like myself) would have just sat back to see if the whole Kinect concept really did take off, regardless of most sensible prices.

But in response the article in general, the relative 'decline' of the Wii comes as no real surprise, especially given Xbox Kinect and PS Move. Effectively, MS and Sony are gaining share of the casual-gaming space at the expense of one-time monopolists Nintendo.

The reverse is not ocurring however - while Nintendo continues to wring every last ounce of it's Mario franchise, new IP is far rarer on the Wii and it's efforts to produce more 'hardcore-gamer' oriented, media rich games are paltry to say the least.

The lack of new IP and the general staleness of the Wii platform is totally indicative of a company sitting on it's monopolist laurels.

I own all three consoles and to be quite honest, while there are some true gems in my Wii collection, I am stickler for a well told story which Nintendo only seems capable of delivering speechlessly via text.

Would it really hurt a Mario game to evolve a little with the times and give him a few more lines of speech beyond the simplistic oohs and ahhs? Indeed would it have hurt Super 'Mario' Galaxy 2 if the main protagonist was NOT Mario for a change but some completely new character?

With that said, the entrants of MS and Sony should help to shake Nintendo up a bit with the renewed competition.

Not Sure I Agree

Alv wrote:

But in response the article in general, the relative 'decline' of the Wii comes as no real surprise, especially given Xbox Kinect and PS Move. Effectively, MS and Sony are gaining share of the casual-gaming space at the expense of one-time monopolists Nintendo.

Quote:

The lack of new IP and the general staleness of the Wii platform is totally indicative of a company sitting on it's monopolist laurels.

I don't think "monopolist" is the best term to describe Nintendo, at least not this generation. Nothing Nintendo has done with the Wii in the last 5 years shows monopolistic tendencies or desires. You must remember many were leaving Nintendo for dead before the Wii and some even suggested pulling a SEGA and going software only. The big N releases a new console, relatively low-end technology wise, with waggle controls that catches on with the "general" public. They don't buy up other developers, partner with MS or Sony, or really do anything in the gaming industry that would lead to a monopoly. There is nothing monopolistic about Nintendo and the Wii; it's just smart, possibly lucky, business sense. Now if you want to label Nintendo monopolistic in the handheld market...

Quote:

The reverse is not ocurring however - while Nintendo continues to wring every last ounce of it's Mario franchise, new IP is far rarer on the Wii and it's efforts to produce more 'hardcore-gamer' oriented, media rich games are paltry to say the least.

Would it really hurt a Mario game to evolve a little with the times and give him a few more lines of speech beyond the simplistic oohs and ahhs? Indeed would it have hurt Super 'Mario' Galaxy 2 if the main protagonist was NOT Mario for a change but some completely new character?

I haven't personally played Mario Galaxy 2, but from the reviews I've read, it hardly sounds like Nintendo is wringing Mario dry. Having played the original Galaxy, I must say that Mario still has a lot of life left in him.

As for giving him more of a voice and dialogue, that takes away from what makes Mario appeal to such a wide range of gamers. He is quite generic and therefore open to more interpretation from individuals. Mario does have a gender and race, which takes away a bit, but adding more voice would chip away from gaming's "everyman".

Not having Mario in Galaxy 2 might not hurt, but I'm not sure it could be pulled off in a location other than the world of the Mushroom Kingdom (or Galaxy I guess...). The worlds, the enemies, the power-ups, all "scream" Mario. Could it use some tweaks? Probably. Give us four player options with other Mario characters, much like was done on the DS remake of Super Mario 64. Throw in some substantial co-op, not just pointing and gathering. Or how about a new main villain? But, I think Bowser has actually improved as a villain since the move to 3D, so I'm not 100% sold on that idea but it would be interesting.

Quote:

With that said, the entrants of MS and Sony should help to shake Nintendo up a bit with the renewed competition.

Microsoft maybe, Sony I'm not convinced.

Lastly, I just wanted to reiterate that I could care less about who "wins" or who is making progress, losing ground, or anything else of that nature. I just don't see Nintendo as monopolistic (not saying they don't want to be) and I am guessing most gaming companies wish they had the IP library that Nintendo does, let alone just ONE character as iconic as Mario. Coming across as a Nintendo "fanboy" I will admit I have a soft spot in my hardened gaming thumbs for the Italian plumber that hates apes. However, I haven't even played his most recent outing and don't plan on doing so anytime soon. My Wii has been gathering dust the past few months, and if it wasn't for a recent splurge on Kirby's Epic Yarn, most of my gaming time has been devoted to my Xbox.

Ok, Nintendo's not a monopoly

frogofdeath wrote:

I don't think "monopolist" is the best term to describe Nintendo, at least not this generation. Nothing Nintendo has done with the Wii in the last 5 years shows monopolistic tendencies or desires. You must remember many were leaving Nintendo for dead before the Wii and some even suggested pulling a SEGA and going software only. The big N releases a new console, relatively low-end technology wise, with waggle controls that catches on with the "general" public. They don't buy up other developers, partner with MS or Sony, or really do anything in the gaming industry that would lead to a monopoly. There is nothing monopolistic about Nintendo and the Wii; it's just smart, possibly lucky, business sense. Now if you want to label Nintendo monopolistic in the handheld market...

Fair point. Indeed, I retract my earlier mis-labelling of Nintendo as a monopoly. It's hard to argue that a game like Galaxy isn't substitutable for, say, Halo Reach. There is a choice that can be made here. In this sense Nintendo cannot have held a monopoly in the general gaming market as they were not free to set the price of games without competition.

In my assertation of Nintendo's lack of competitiveness, I was thinking specifically of applications of the motion controller which I had assumed to be synonymous with the casual-gaming market, but this clearly isn't the case.

Half the problem I believe is with their over-reliance on in-house developers, thus over-reliance on regurgitating age-old franchises like Mario and Zelda, and slow rate of IP accumulation.

Alv wrote: ZippyDSMlee

Alv wrote:
ZippyDSMlee wrote:

Anyone know if the 360 has broke even yet on the hardware costs?

Microsoft may have deliberately restricted supply to keep prices high and raise profits... depends on how price-sensitive consumers are, but given Kinect was the big thing in December, I strongly believe that those that really wanted to be first on the uptake would have been prepared to pay a premium, and those that didn't (like myself) would have just sat back to see if the whole Kinect concept really did take off, regardless of most sensible prices.

But in response the article in general, the relative 'decline' of the Wii comes as no real surprise, especially given Xbox Kinect and PS Move. Effectively, MS and Sony are gaining share of the casual-gaming space at the expense of one-time monopolists Nintendo.

The reverse is not ocurring however - while Nintendo continues to wring every last ounce of it's Mario franchise, new IP is far rarer on the Wii and it's efforts to produce more 'hardcore-gamer' oriented, media rich games are paltry to say the least.

The lack of new IP and the general staleness of the Wii platform is totally indicative of a company sitting on it's monopolist laurels.

I own all three consoles and to be quite honest, while there are some true gems in my Wii collection, I am stickler for a well told story which Nintendo only seems capable of delivering speechlessly via text.

Would it really hurt a Mario game to evolve a little with the times and give him a few more lines of speech beyond the simplistic oohs and ahhs? Indeed would it have hurt Super 'Mario' Galaxy 2 if the main protagonist was NOT Mario for a change but some completely new character?

With that said, the entrants of MS and Sony should help to shake Nintendo up a bit with the renewed competition.

Meh its not much to much mario its more a lack of good mario, tho I guess they could fall into the Square devolution pit and make more games of worsening qaulity.

Nin is a Dev/console maker power house thats showing its age in a time of multi console massivenessisim, This happened to the N64 where they ran out of support now the question is is the Wii channel and what devs do support them with unique titles enough to fill in the gaps until they bring their next console out, either way nintendo has lost nothing but market share they could barely grab onto from the start. The rest will be made up with a new console and nin will find a equal spot with the other 2 more or less..

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