The latest numbers escaping from poorly guarded NPD holding cells indicate that the gaming industry enjoyed a 27.8% sales increase in the month most closely associated with holidays and reckless spending. Strong hardware sales in December helped push the industry up to an annual $12.5 billion, a sizable increase compared to last year's $10.5 billion.

Contrary to the figures cited in a CNBC report earlier this month, the console winner of Christmas 2006 was not the Xbox 360, but the Playstation 2. Unsurprisingly, the Nintendo DS reigned supreme in the portable arena, as well as in overall sales.

NPD console sales for December 2006
  • DS: 1.6 million (9.2 million life-to-date)
  • PlayStation 2: 1.4 million (37.1 million life-to-date)
  • Xbox 360: 1.1 million (4.5 million life-to-date)
  • PSP: 953.2k (6.7 million life-to-date)
  • Game Boy Advance: 850.7k (35.1 million life-to-date)
  • Wii: 604.2k (1.1 million life-to-date)
  • PS3: 490.7k (687.3k life-to-date)
The top-selling game for December was Microsoft's Gears of War, followed closely by Guitar Hero II. Rounding out the top five are Madden NFL '07 (PS2) and both versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Interestingly, the waggle-free version of Link's latest adventure sold around 13,000 more copies.

Check out the full Gamedaily Biz article for further details, numbers and invaluable fanboy ammunition.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

Professor pushing video games to help kids land jobs