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Xbox 360 outshines Wii U in November, NPD says

Microsoft's game console once again led the U.S. hardware market during the critical month of November, but Wii U sales were strong.

The Xbox 360 is still selling well.
The Xbox 360 is still selling well.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 has once again topped the U.S. game hardware market.

During November, Xbox 360 was the top-selling hardware platform, research firm NPD said yesterday. That was somewhat surprising, considering the Wii U, which is sold out nationwide, made its debut on store shelves last month. However, it's worth noting that the Wii U was launched about halfway through the month, giving it fewer days to rack up sales.

According to Microsoft, it sold 1.26 million Xbox 360 units in November, giving it the top console spot for the 23rd-consecutive month. According to NPD, the Xbox 360 was the top-selling hardware platform, which includes portable devices like the Nintendo 3DS, for the 16th month in a row.

Nintendo, meanwhile, announced that its total hardware sales during the month, which include the Wii U, Wii, 3DS, and DS, hit 1.75 million. The company sold 910,000 units between its DS and 3DS, and 845,000 console units. The Wii U sold more than 425,000 units during the period analyzed by NPD.

Sony didn't reveal hardware figures for the month, but however many products it sold did little to address the market's troubles. Total hardware sales last month hit $838.9 million, a 13 percent decline compared with the $962.2 million generated during the same period last year.

It was a similar story on the gaming software side, where sales slipped 11 percent to $1.43 billion. Even accessory sales were down, dropping 8 percent to land at $280.9 million. All told, the gaming industry generated $2.55 billion in sales last month, dropping 11 percent compared with the $2.87 billion it made in November 2011.

Still, all of that doesn't necessarily point to bad news.

"It's important to compare this month's results to November 2005, which was the last time the industry began to transition between console generations with the launch of a new platform," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. "Comparing this month's results to November 2005, retail video games sales are nearly twice as big as they were then (+97%). This really demonstrates the long-term health of retail sales even as many platforms are quite late in their lifecycles.

"Despite an overall retail video game decline of 11 percent, November had the smallest year-over-year decrease we have seen for dollar and unit sales so far this year," Callahan continued. "This is a sign of momentum going into the December holiday period."

It's also important to note that NPD's sales figures encompass only "physical" sales -- products that are tangible and can be purchased either online or in-store. Digital sales, which now account for about half of all gaming spending, are not included in NPD's findings.

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