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Xbox 360 scores huge sales win in January

The video game slump continued last month, but the Xbox 360 turned in another winning performance as the top selling console.


The Xbox 360 is still scoring big amidst a slump in overall gaming sales.

Microsoft's hot gaming console was the best-selling platform in the U.S. in January, its 13th month in a row at the top of the charts, NPD Group said yesterday.

For January, Microsoft sold 270,000 Xbox 360s,  grabbing 49 percent of the console market last month. The Xbox accounted for $310 million in total sales (hardware, software, and accessories), the highest number for any console in the U.S. January also marked the 11th month in a row in which the Xbox grabbed more than a 40 percent share.

The console captured five of the top ten best selling games in the U.S. in January, specifically Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, NBA 2K12, and Just Dance 3. And figures released last week showed that the Xbox 360 was the top selling console for all of 2011.

"Historically, after several years in the console lifecycle there is a softening of demand, but Xbox 360 continues to defy that convention," NPD said in its January report. "Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the lifecycle of the console by re-imagining entertainment and delivering new technologies like Kinect for Xbox 360, a new Xbox dashboard, and new entertainment content partners in 2011."

For 2012, the Xbox will see more games, including new additions to the Halo and Fable series. Star Wars fans and gamers alike are eagerly anticipating the release of Kinect Star Wars due to hit a galaxy not so far away on April 3. A new Xbox console, so far dubbed the Xbox 720, could hit store shelves before the end of next year.

The rest of the video game industry, however, has been on a losing streak.

Total gaming sales (hardware, software, and accessories) hit $750.6 million, a 34 percent drop from $1.14 billion in January 2011. Hardware sales slipped by 38 percent to $199.5 million, while total software sales declined 37 percent to $379.6 million from a year ago.

NPD blamed the sales slump on a number of factors.

"January retail performance experienced steep declines with a lack of software launches, and poor hardware and accessory performance partly related to bad comparisons from Kinect-related success in Jan 2011," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in the report.

But the lack of new blockbuster games was a particular sore point in January.

Titles launched last month accounted for only 13 percent of sales, according to NPD. And the sales performance of those new titles sunk 99 percent compared with a year ago. Certain games, such as Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2, and DC Universe Online, were in the top ten in 2011. But January saw no new major releases.

Still, gamers found other ways to spend their hard-earned dollars, generating some additional sales for the industry.

"We estimate that the consumer spend on other ways to acquire content including used games, full game and add-on content downloads, social network games, mobile games, rentals and subscriptions accounted for an additional $350 - $400 million in sales," Callahan noted.