Following yesterday's explosive release of the March NPD video game sales results, both Sony and Nintendo have predictably constructed and delivered finely worded press statements celebrating their astoundingly magnificent results. There's plenty of fun to be had on the merry-go-round, but spinning too much may lead to uncontrollable nausea and projectile vomiting. In the interest of shielding you from an unexpected Technicolor yawn, we've decided to slow things down a bit.
"Nintendo stays number one," declares the house of Miyamoto, rightly referring to the unstoppable DS. "Nintendo once again claimed the top two spots among the best-selling new video game systems in America in March, according to independent sales data gathered by the NPD Group." Hang on, weren't the top two spots shared by the DS and the PlayStation 2? Oh, the top two spots among the new video game systems, they say. Sorry PS2 pal, you only claim a spot among the old video game systems. An added bonus: Using this wording, Nintendo could claim the top two spots among new systems even if the the PS2 and original Xbox were to somehow become the best sellers for the month.
"Innovation is compelling both current gamers and new gamers to experience a new way to play. Nintendo is bringing gaming back to the masses," says Nintendo president and habitual posterior kicker, Reggie Fils-Aime. Ah yes, "the masses," they're the ones to blame for a critical Wii shortage. Remember, Wii systems are selling as fast as Nintendo can possibly crank them out. The 41% drop in sales since January, coupled with the promise here of "increased production" following the end of a successful financial year... isn't suspicious at all.
But don't fret, Sony's world is spinning just as fast. "According to NPD data, March 2007 showed a 24% increase in retail dollars generated year-over-year for the PlayStation brand in North America with total sales of $447 million, due in part to the addition of the PS3 platform as well as the strong launch performance of God of War II for PS2 at retail." It's true, God of War II was at the top of the software sales chart and drove the PlayStation 2 right past the Wii and Xbox 360. The PSP also held its own in March, with approximately 180,000 units sold.
Not wanting to exclude its newest system from the celebrations, however, Sony is keen to point out that the PlayStation 3 was the only "next-generation" console to see a sales gain this month -- its modern competitors both fell. Indeed, the PS3 did see a 2% sales gain, but then, where else was it going to go but up? Is it truly noteworthy that you've gone up a rung on the bottom of the ladder while a Game Boy Advance steps on your fingers and a Gamecube is telling you to stop holding everybody up?
Maybe the lack of sales hyperspeed can be explained away in the same manner Han Solo once did. "It's not my fault!" As Sony puts it, "we continued to find ourselves supply constrained in March due primarily to the shift in manufacturing focus to the PS3 PAL version to support the launch of the system in Europe." Supply constraints? We thought that sort of thing only happened in the dreaded Tretton dimension.
Microsoft has not yet commented on the March NPD results.
Microsoft's tactic is to completely ignore its "toughest competition." Indeed, "The latest numbers have been released by NPD, and we're happy to announce that Xbox 360 continues to lead Sony's PS3 in next-generation gaming console sales with 199K units sold in the month of March." The Microsoft press release describes an attach rate of 5.7 games sold per console (with four games making it into the NPD software top ten), as well as Guitar Hero II shifting over 291,000 units within five days.
"Games like Guitar Hero II that were once PlayStation exclusives are now enabling consumers to have more choices when it comes to platform selection, while also broadening our portfolio of games that appeal to customers of all ages." Giving consumers more choices is always a plus, though you'd better hope they don't choose your primary competitor. Which totally isn't the Wii, by the way.
Read -- Nintendo stays number one
Read -- PS3 only console to see gains in March