updated 07:55 pm EDT, Mon June 13, 2011
NPD gives Xbox 360 lead in May despite new low
New NPD data unveiled Monday night showed the video game business at a rare low with Microsoft getting the most benefits. Although it hesitated to give full numbers, it had the combined hardware and software sales in May at their lowest point since October 2006 based on a "light slate of new releases" led mostly by LA Noire and Brink. The Xbox 360 was the top system of the batch at 270,000 units and was up 28 percent, making up 34 percent of the revenue, while the Wii's continued fall was the primary drag on the industry.
Sony didn't upturn its usual third-place spot but saw the PS3 up the same 28 percent as the Xbox.
The Nintendo 3DS' sales were still "light," though this was about to change with the launch of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, considered by many to be the first system-seller for the still young handheld machine. Nintendo's overall problems stressed the importance of releasing the Wii U next year to catch up in performance and features to its TV-oriented rivals.
Researchers at NPD may not have painted a complete picture of the software side of the market. The sales didn't factor in either full game downloads online, such as through Steam or Xbox Live Arcade, and didn't include downloadable add-ons for the games themselves. Publishers like EA and Take Two have been focusing on fewer, higher quality games but also pushing downloads as ways of extending a game and driving income beyond just the one-time sale.