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Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony tout NPD numbers

With its quarterly numbers out, NPD has something for everyone to brag about.

Update: This story has been changed to reflect the email from Sony touting its PlayStation 3 March performance.

With the release today of its March video game industry sales report, NPD has provided fodder for just about anyone who wants to read the numbers the way they want. Or trumpet them.

For example, in an e-mail from Nintendo, I learned that, according to NPD, "In March, Nintendo again defined industry momentum in both home and portable video game sales."

In other words, Nintendo's sales of 720,000 Wiis topped console sales. And Nintendo also dug around in NPD's report and discovered that it could also tout that it had the best-selling game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which sold 2.7 million copies in the month.

At the same time, Microsoft weighed in with its own celebratory e-mail, which begins by stating that, according to NPD, "Consumers continue to make the ultimate vote for Xbox 360 as the console of choice."

Its rationale: That consumers have spent more on Xboxes, $9.4 billion for its entire lifecycle, than on "other game consoles."

So, we've got Nintendo saying it "defined industry momentum" and Microsoft arguing that gamers cast the "ultimate vote" for it.

And this is proof positive, of course, that numbers can be manipulated any way one wants.

Unless you're Sony, that is. I didn't see an e-mail or a press release about the PlayStation 3's March performance, either in my inbox or on the official PlayStation Web site. And the way I read the numbers, there's good reason for that: The PS3 was only the fifth-best-selling console in March--after the Wii, Nintendo's DS, Sony's PlayStation Portable, and the Xbox 360. In fact, the PS3 only barely outsold Sony's PlayStation 2.

I think it's very clear that all these companies are going to posture and fluff their tail feathers and try to elbow each other out of the way--month after month into perpetuity. And because NPD--the leader in gathering industry sales numbers--and others put out so many different metrics, there's always something for everybody to brag about. Well, almost always.

Update: I got an email from Sony after this story was published trumpeting the PlayStation 3's 98 percent sales growth from the same period a year earlier.