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Last week's NPD sales data confirmed Nintendo's dominance at the register in both the handheld and console spaces. The Wii's lower price point pits the most heated (and arguably "next-gen") console war between Microsoft and Sony. When NPD reported that Sony sold just 127k PlayStation 3s in the U.S. in February, it's easy to suggest that the company is in dire straits, but looking at the path tread last year by the Xbox 360, Sony is actually on familiar ground. During its first four months at retail, Microsoft's Xbox 360 was supply constrained but still managed a sell-through in the U.S. of 1.02M consoles through February 2006, according to NPD figures. With suffocating supply constraints during the November launch period, Sony's PlayStation 3 still outsold the Xbox 360 during the same four-month launch window with 1.06M consoles sold through February 2007. Briefly ignoring just how supply constrained the 360 was during that four month period, the fact that the PlayStation 3 has outsold the Xbox 360 over the same period in its life span despite costing $200 more per unit isn't a something that should get lost amidst the cries of doom and gloom for Sony's platform. How much more would the Xbox 360 have sold had supply not be so constrained in the first four months after launch? After selling 160k units in February of 2006, the Xbox 360 went on to sell 192k units the following month before bouncing back in April's NPDs with its biggest month since the November launch with 295K units sold. That 295K units would also be the second biggest month for PlayStation 3 sales, but Sony's biggest month wasn't the November launch, rather it was December where the system sold 491K units. What does this mean for Sony? Considering the system's higher price point, if the platform can keep pace with the Xbox 360 through the first year (while the software matures), regardless of the installed base, the system has to be considered semi-successful. A concerning statistic between the two platforms' first January and February months is the drop-off in sales for those two months. From January 2006 to February 2006 the Xbox 360 sales trailed off 36% (250K units down to 161k units). At the same point in its lifespan, Sony's PlayStation 3 experienced a drop-off of 48% (244K units down to 127K units). That drop in sales, considering the units are available at retail, is cause for concern. Yet, despite trailing off by 25% more than its supply-constrained predecessor, the system does still cost $200 more. Neither console had major exclusives during their first February (Virtua Fighter 5 on the PlayStation 3 sold 53K units) -- PlayStation 3 has Motorstorm and Oblivion in March, where Xbox 360 had Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Oblivion at the same point in time last year. Ubisoft's GRAW, which just shipped a sequel this month, sold 486K copies in March of 2006; Oblivion sold a combined 356K copies in March 2006 (there was a limited edition of the game, too). Yet, while software surged for the Xbox 360 in March of 2006, the system only sold 191K units -- its third worst month to date. What does that mean? Even if Motorstorm and Oblivion-PS3 sell with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Oblivion-360 type performance at U.S. retail (the latter seems less likely considering pretty much the same game is coming to market a full year later), based on the Xbox 360's March 2006 sales, the PlayStation 3 may not see the sales surge some folks (myself included, albeit erroneously) said the system needed. In addition to selling more over the first four months of its lifespan than the Xbox 360's first four months, the biggest software seller on PlayStation 3 outsold the biggest 360 title during those same four months. According to NPD, Insomniac's Resistance: Fall of Man sold 430K units through February -- the biggest selling Xbox 360 launch game over same period -- Perfect Dark Zero -- sold 396K units across two SKUs. The system is selling better over the first four months of its lifespan than the 360 and its major launch game outsold the 360's best selling launch game during the same window. ....................................................................... I agree with this article if the ps3 can keep pace with the 360 through its 1st year it has to be considered a success.. what do you think?



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