I can be sarcastic in a headline, right? No matter, retail research firm NPD released last year’s video game sales data today, revealing–of course–that Nintendo’s Wii console and DS handheld were the big winners.
Perhaps there’s some surprise in knowing the DS was the most popular last-minute holiday item, selling 3.04 million units to the Wii’s 2.15 million units in December. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 came in second place, selling 1.44 million consoles last month. Sony’s PSP handheld sold 1.02 million units in December, besting the Playstation 3′s 726,000 units.
Overall, sales of video games, consoles and related products in 2008 rose 19 percent from the year before. I was going to break out the calculator, do some research, and compile a list of total 2008 console sales, but realized the kind folks at Video Game Sales Wiki already took care of that, so here are the numbers:
Nintendo DS: 9,951,100
Xbox 360: 4,735,400
Playstation 3: 3,544,900
With everything laid out like this, the 1.2 million unit difference between the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 isn’t so bad, especially when you consider how handily the Wii stomped both of them.
As for games, Wii Play and its bundled Wii Remote was the top seller of 2008 — you’d know this by standing in a GameStop and seeing the employees pitch it to everyone buying a console — with Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit taking silver and bronze respectively. Careful, though, because NPD’s counts the same game separately when released for more than one console. Add Grand Theft Auto IV’s PS3 and Xbox 360 sales together, and it’s actually in second place overall.
NPD Analyst Anita Frazier noted that most of the best-sellers were released long before the holiday season. “Get some high profile releases out in the first and second quarters,” she suggested. Some publishers are taking this advice to heart, with big name titles like Lord of the Rings: Conquest and Halo Wars being saved for the first quarter of 2009.
Frazier also noted that as the economy melted in the fourth quarter, people kept buying games. Add that to the list of unsurprising revelations of 2008.