And The Wheels Keep On Turning: Microsoft’s Preemptive Strike

360controllers.jpgWhen it comes to fueling the ‘which system is better’ argument, nothing ignites it for the “fans” of a system better than the monthly sales numbers the NPD Group releases.

Before the January tally was released today, Microsoft knew their Xbox 360 sales numbers were likely to trail PS3’s (which they did) and preemptively issued a statement, making sure everyone knows why they were trailing. The statement reads: “Our retailers are telling us that Xbox 360 is selling as fast as they can restock, but due to this high demand, Xbox 360 is experiencing temporary shortages. We are working as quickly as we can to replenish inventory.”

It didn’t stop there though, they took it a couple steps further by pointing out the following:

  • In January, $297 million was spent on the Xbox 360 platform (hardware, software and accessories combined), compared to $244 million on Wii and $219 million on PS3. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • $159 million was spent on Xbox 360 games alone in January compared to $131 million on Wii and $80 million for PS3. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Total customer spending on Xbox 360 life-to-date now reaches nearly $8.6 billion; this is more than double PS3 and Wii combined. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Six of the top 10 best selling games in January are on Xbox 360’s platform. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • After five months on the market, Halo 3 continues to make the top 10 best selling games list according to NPD with 127,000 additional units sold in January. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on Xbox 360 was the number one selling game across all platforms for the third month in a row. In January, the fourth edition of Activision’s acclaimed war game sold more than 331,000 copies on Xbox 360 and outsold the PS3 version by more than 2:1. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Music fans love to jam on Rock Band and Guitar Hero III on Xbox 360! The Xbox 360 version of Rock Band sold more than 172,000 units in January and ranked fifth on the top 10 best selling games according to NPD. Rock Band on PS3 failed make it into the top 25 list for January. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Third party publishers made 61 percent of their retail revenue, this generation, on Xbox 360 compared to 20 percent on Wii and 18 percent on PS3. (U.S. NPD, January)
  • Xbox 360 has 83 titles with a Metacritic review score of 80 or higher compared to just 42 for PS3 and 14 for Wii

Pointing out these comparisons, while impressive, makes Microsoft look like the friend who’s trying their hardest to convince you of something that they did or did not do. Or in this case, Microsoft trying to tell us they still did better than the other guys, if we’d only look at the bigger picture.

Comparing unit sales is important, that much is obvious. And Microsoft HQ is none too happy that the 360 had to settle behind PS3, that’s obvious as well. But releasing a list like that at this time means that PS3 and Wii fanboys just got some fresh ammunition. Expect forum topics on the “next-gen” wars to be in full over drive by the time you’re done reading this.