Microsoft 'ran out' of Xbox 360s in December

Xbox Live's programming director says Microsoft ran out of consoles last month, which would likely put its unit sales figures behind those of Nintendo.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Xbox 360 Microsoft

Microsoft's Xbox 360 sales are so steep that the company is having trouble keeping up with demand, claims Xbox Live's director of programming.

Larry Hryb, who is better known as "Major Nelson," tweeted yesterday: "I found out we ran out of consoles at end of the month (!) so don't expect to win Dec." The "win" is in reference to unit sales rankings for game consoles that market researcher NPD is set to release today. Basically, Microsoft is saying that if it isn't No. 1, the cause is actually its popularity, not lack thereof.

The situation apparently won't ease up for consumers still hoping to get their hands on the Xbox 360. Major Nelson reported in a follow-up tweet that "Jan/Feb supply is tight as well."

For now at least, Xbox 360 units seem to be readily available from several retailers. The online stores for Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop, and Wal-Mart all have Microsoft's console in stock. The companies promise to ship units within 24 hours.

But if Microsoft did indeed run out of consoles last month, recent sales estimates released this week by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter could be off.

The analyst estimates that 2.5 million Xbox 360 units were sold in December, trailing only Nintendo's Wii with 2.6 million units sold. If Microsoft hit that mark, the company would have seen 91 percent growth year over year. However, Pachter's report to investors made no mention of any Xbox 360 shortages.

But we won't know for sure if Pachter's estimates were too high unless Microsoft reports actual sales figures. Last year, NPD stopped publicly sharing unit sales for hardware and software. Since then, the three main console makers have, at times, reported unit sales on their own.