updated 11:10 am EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
NPD data shows Xbox 360 out front again
New NPD data published late Thursday gave the Xbox 360 not just a sustained lead in March but a rare milestone in hardware overall. At 371,000 units, Microsoft's console stayed in the lead for overall sales for the 15th consecutive month. The $430 million spent on the hardware and its games, however, was also larger than the combination of money spent supporting the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3.
The hardware sales were a steep drop both from March last year but from the average weekly sales from last month. HD-capable console sales fared better, the NPD Group's Anita Frazier said. February was considered an exception given the launch of the PlayStation Vita.
Microsoft's success likely came from a month that heavily favored big cross-platform game launches. Mass Effect 3 led sales and, on consoles, only supported the PS3 as its other main platform. Other top-ten games with a heavy emphasis on the Xbox 360 included the snowboarder title SSX and the survival horror game Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
Some of the drag came from accessories, which were down eight points to $225.5 million of the total $1.1 billion spent in gaming during March. Sheer units were up, the NPD said, but gamers had been buying less expensive hardware.
Much of Microsoft's success has been credited to its emphasis on clinching exclusives or the strong multiplayer experience through Xbox Live. Nintendo's fall from its one-time dominance has been blamed on an overemphasis on first-party games that leads Wii sales to thrive or flounder based solely on whether or not Nintendo has a new game release. Sony has mostly been hurt by both shipping the PS3 a year later and high prices that hurt most of its momentum in the first few years of the console's existence.