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ryan

June 5th 2011 3:04 pm

Xbox 360 hits 55 million units

Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 has hit 55 million units sold, and that its sales are accelerating not only disproportionately to its competition, but to any console ever at this period in its lifecycle. The Xbox team released a super interesting normalized sales graph that tracks sales progress from launch through year nine of the last few console generations: static.flickr.com­/5062­/5793291459­_447e283c3d.jpg

The interesting trends I'm seeing here: the Wii, as we know, has flamed out, but the PS3 appears to have flattened over the last year. Why? Well, I'd actually read that more as a combination of the Xbox's growth (especially in overseas markets) and Kinect's supercharged 2010 holiday season; Microsoft has done a solid job of eating into Sony's own share of growth post-Wii, making the Xbox's acceleration curve look even more dramatic compared to the others. (This graph is annualized, so it's probably not greatly influenced by the PSN outages -- yet.)

It's been super interesting to watch Xbox grow from the "yeah, right" underdog in the early oughts console generation to the dominant force in console gaming in this generation.

Followup, an interesting quote sent to me from a Microsoft rep: "Microsoft has now sold 55 million Xbox 360 consoles across 38 countries and sales are accelerating. Xbox 360 maintains its lead in the US as the top selling console in 2011, and ten of the past eleven months. In the first four months of 2011, Xbox 360 has seen a 29 percent year over year increase in sales, which is more than triple the growth of PlayStation 3 and the largest growth of any console on the market."

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21 replies
Avi

One of the most interesting aspects of the Xbox is how Microsoft is claiming that 40% of its use is for non-gaming activities. Microsoft always intended the Xbox to be its outpost in the digital living room. They correctly understood that consumers buy game consoles first and foremost to play games, but the message that it's a set top box in disguise does appear to be getting through as well.
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ryan

I remember we used to theorize about this Trojan Horse play quite a bit back in the day when the 360 was first coming up. Despite some missteps (RRoD, IPTV, Media Center, HD DVD, etc.) it's amazing how well they've nailed it, and how much and how quickly they've iterated and made their entire ecosystem more valuable (see: NXE, first with Netflix, first with media downloads, first with indie games, first Facebook and Twitter integration, Kinect, the list goes on...).
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gkenyon

Surprised to hear you call Media Center a misstep. As an old Elite owner, I seriously considered the new Slim model when needing a media box for the bedroom TV because I loved the way Windows 7 integrated with the 360. I chose the ATV2 with XBMC (a great solution IMHO) since the GF nixed the idea of games in the bedroom. But Media center was a big selling point for me.
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ryan

I probably should have qualified that, since the Xbox 360 is still to this day the best Media Center Extender device ever made for a variety of reasons, and Microsoft has shipped a lot of Media Center capable PCs.

The problem is less with Media Center being a good product, and more that MSFT envisioned this Media Center ecosystem that never panned out (partially because having a full PC with tuners running your home theater is a highly expensive and complicated proposition). Nowadays I think the 360 is the only MC Extender left on the market.

So the actual MCE aspect of the 360? Awesome. The future of MCE? Not doing so hot these days.
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gkenyon

Ah, very much agreed. And your original point is important. MFST killed it by adding so much value with Netflix, MCE, full game downloads, indie games, ESPN3 add-ons, etc. I have tons of reasons to turn it on. My PS2 lasted me 6 years, and almost 6 years into the 360, I'm not sure if the technology exists yet that would make me give it up.
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MasterSystem

This is exactly it, if you could only have one device attached to your TV, what would it be?

For me the answer is exceedingly easy: an Xbox 360.

Maybe I am giving Microsoft too much credit, but right now TVs are not ready for the internet and MSFT is better for offering services that involve the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but not the actual internet. Let's keep the internet on our PCs and tablets, but bring it to the Xbox when a TV based browser is functionally usable.
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mglipford

I can't say these numbers surprise me much. I bought the 360 on release day back in 2005, and have been through a total of 3 iterations, though I only paid for the first. All in all, MS handled the RRoD situation to my liking.

I have a PS3 as well, but I skipped over the Wii due to a complete lack of compelling games. Rather, not a complete lack, but enough of a lack to undermine the merit of purchasing a console. I like my PS3, but the ONLY games I buy for it are system exclusives. The only reason I bought it was because they dropped the price, combined with the accumulation of enough compelling exclusives, and the blu-ray player built in.

Which brings me back to the Xbox 360. I probably have purchased 10 times the number of games for the 360 vs. the PS3. So why, given the breadth of multi platform releases available, do I stick to the 360? Easy answer: X-box Live.

Live has become a powerhouse of a service over its lifetime. I can still remember the novelty of downloadable content, and a friend's list (novel at least for consoles), etc. What it has grown into, is a compelling media market that integrates the services that people use. Between Netflix, Hulu, and ESPN, there's quite a bit to do on the X-box besides just play games.

It's no wonder they sell so many consoles.
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chuckiej

Totally agree. Live is the key!
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wireman

Hmm, there is more to that I reckon: aside from Kinect, the 360 did just have a Stealthbox redesign that completely shed the RROD stigma and noise issues of the previous unit, pretty much fulfilling the underlying issues present in the console itself. And Kinect- the less said the better. Pretty disruptive to the presumptions of its lifecycle.

But the big picture of the 360 has always been even more interesting: As much as Nintendo and Sony were trying- or more accurately (in Sony's case)- struggling to live out their potential and evolution as gaming systems, Microsoft has taken a rather amorphous stance with the 360. During the console's infancy it was indeed all about trying to get the best games and core experiences on the Xbox relative to the PS3, but with the subsequent NXE and its associated integration (Avatar build-ons, Marketplace(s), XBLM and Indie Games) you see the rapid shift to not just software in terms of game titles, but software on the console itself being slick and understated, that MS is trying to breed a certain trust into the 360 services ecosystem: safety, integration, accessibility, quality of content, akin to what you see with the iOS (app) ecosystem and its subsequent lock-in. (in contrast, I don't see this in the PS Store/Media experiences!)

And that somehow does matter: in the PS2 days it was blockbuster titles that drove console sales on the months of their launches: Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, God Of War... these exclusive titles still do help the PS3, but no longer in such a magnitude.
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RohitK

Good selection of games, decent online play and a solid hardware that's been augmented by a very cool thingamajig (that may not really be best suited to gaming, but still); what's not to like?

That being said, would you say that MS needs to come out with a new console any time soon? The Xbox 360 is getting old in age, but supports HD gaming and now has gotten MS' choice of motion gaming. It's still a great choice for a purchase.

Nintendo looks to be changing the game again with the Wii HD, if the rumors of the controllers are anything to go by. What do you think would be an appropriate strategy for Microsoft and Sony right now?
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Dpmt

I'm not sure that Microsoft can claim that they won this generation the Wii beat them fair and square. I think that the Wii will follow the PS2's path with a spike as it comes down and is replaced by cafe.

I will say that I'm glad that Microsoft has fixed the Xbox 360's hardware problems and that they deserve there strong second. Hope to find a compelling Kinnect game sometime this year.
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ryan

It's pretty hard to argue that's actually the case unless you're looking at unit sales. Nintendo created a bubble around the Wii -- one that, for a time, contributed largely to them becoming the most valuable company in Japan. But that bubble has since burst, and their entire company is in trouble. Profits have plummeted and they've had quarters in the red.

Nintendo has done an amazing job of selling consoles this generation, they've done the worst at attach rates and ARPU, so it's wound up being something of a pyrrhic (and short-lived) victory. We can debate the merits and drawbacks of their ecosystem, but you cannot debate the fact that they are no longer the front-runner.

I'll put it in other terms. if one had to step in to fill the roles of either Don Mattrick, Kaz Hirai, or Satoru Iwata, well, I'd choose those roles in the order above. Digging Nintendo out of the hole they've found themselves in after the last couple of years is not going to be fun.
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chuckiej

Totally agree Ryan. Hopefully for them some of that red is the development of Wii U superimposed on declining Wii sales.

My hope for the Wii U lies as much in the more standard button layout on the controller than the touchscreen on it. Call of Duty could come to Wii with a similar control scheme as the other consoles and barely use the screen. But then to differentiate itself the screen could be used for something... not the radar, that belongs on screen.

Basically, HD and a somewhat standard control layout means the same core games can come to Wii U and use the screen/motion control to differentiate itself from the other versions.
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kris

For the last week of May, Wii still moved more systems in the Americas and put five titles in the Top 10:

www.vgchartz.com­/weekly.php­?reg­=America­&date­=­&...


Wii has experienced a decline since last year, but that's to be expected from a system that everyone and their mom purchased: there's really nowhere to go but down.

(And these are just the sales for this hemisphere, worldwide the picture is a little different but still comes out in Nintendo's favor.)
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RohitK

Also, it was never really that hard to see the Wii would plateau and then decline. I don't own one (don't own any console, actually), but my friend does, and he never plays unless all of us are over. The Wii's really only fun when you have company and everyone gets into the spirit of things. Even then, its entertainment is short-lived as best. The innovation of the motion-sensing gaming was great, and definitely a refresh that the gaming industry needed, but coupled with the graphics and the selection of games that tried too hard to be motion-fun, it never really looked to be a horse in it for the long run.

At the end of the day, if I'm looking to relax and enjoy some gaming, I know I'd pick a regular controller with some decent, visually-appealing games over the Wii on most days. Most. :)
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canaryman12

Remember that these are US figures only. Do we have reliable data for international sales as well?
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ryan

The graph is for US sales, but the 55 million units sold is worldwide.
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Adielr

Hasn't the PS3 sold more units per year then?
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kris

Check out www.vgchartz.com­/weekly.php­?reg­=America­&date­=­&...

You'll see that Xbox 360 has 10+million more than the PS3, while Wii tops the Xbox by 10 million.
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chuckiej

Ironically, I am considering getting a Wii. I'm perfectly happy with my 360 and some Kinect titles are genuinely fun which is what gaming is all about after all. Still, as far as owning consoles I skipped from having an NES as a kid to owning an original Xbox in college to play Halo. I missed some stellar Nintendo games that can now be played on Virtual Console and Mario Galaxy looks fun as well.

I doubt I'll even consider a Wii U until it has proven itself for a year or two, especially if the yet-to-be-announced online system is not significantly better than friend codes (read: Xbox Live clone)
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sup909

What blows me away still this generation is the price points that we are sitting at. The consoles for the most part are still sitting at $299. They have been essentially hovering at those points for a couple of years now. That was what the last generation launched at too.
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