Xbox 360 shines bright in otherwise dismal game market

Microsoft's game console easily kept its lead as the best-selling platform in October, though the rest of the industry is still in the dumps.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
The Xbox 360 with Kinect.
The Xbox 360 with Kinect. Microsoft

The Xbox 360 continues to thrive in a market that's seen better days.

For the 15th month in the row, Microsoft's game console was the top-selling hardware platform, according to the latest video game stats from NPD group (not available on the Web, unfortunately).

In October, Microsoft sold 270,000 Xbox 360 units, more than any other gaming console. That number gave the company a 56 percent share of all console sales in the U.S. It also marked the 20th month in a row that the Xbox captured more than 40 percent of all U.S. sales.

Gamers spent a total of $315 million on Xbox 360 hardware, software, and accessories last month, more than they spent on the Wii and PlayStation 3 combined. Six of the top ten games last month were made for the Xbox, among other platforms. Those included NBA 2K13, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Resident Evil 6, Dishonored, Madden NFL 13, and Borderlands 2.

Now for the bad news.

Total sales for the video game industry fell to $755 million last month, a 25 percent drop from October 2011. Sales of gaming hardware took a 37 percent nosedive, while software sales fell 25 percent. Only video game accessories managed to eke out a gain of 5 percent.

The industry has been on a downward spiral for the past year as more people turn to mobile devices to get their gaming fix.

The upcoming holidays did provide a bit of cheer. Though console sales fell from a year ago, they showed some gains compared to September's results.

"When looking at average sales per week versus September, several consoles realized higher sales: the 360, PS3, NDS and 3DS," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. "This is a sign of increasing momentum as we move into the holiday season."

Callahan also anticipates a bounce this month thanks to new game titles and the debut of Nintendo's Wii U.

"We are looking forward to November 2012 with the results of Assassin's Creed III, and Halo 4, which were positively reviewed, as well as the results of Call of Duty: Black Ops II," he said. "These software titles, along with the Wii U launch on November 18, will provide a much needed boost to retail sales."