With 4.2 million copies sold, Modern Warfare 2 for Xbox 360 was the highest selling game in America for November. By contrast, 1.87 million copies sold for the PlayStation 3. The reason for the drastic difference is tied directly to each console's gamer network. And size matters.
"We have a large install base that has a history of playing Modern Warfare. The Xbox 360 has a large network and if that's where your friends are, you are going to buy that," Microsoft spokesman David Dennis told FastCompany.com. He added that the astonishing numbers don't even include sales of the game that came bundled with a Modern Warfare 2 edition of the Xbox 360, which nearly sold-out in the two weeks of release before Black Friday.
While Nintendo once again dominated console sales (1.26 million units), the war between HD-systems Xbox and PS3 ramped up. A price-drop helped Sony outsell Microsoft in September and October, and after Black Friday, Sony and Nintendo released details about their high sales. Microsoft's response lacked specifics, and many assumed the worst. But, Xbox 360 outsold PlayStation 3, with 820k versus 710k units. Modern Warfare 2, and other best-selling November releases like Assassin's Creed 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 surely contributed to that.
The latest numbers don't mean only doom and gloom for Sony, who had its own take on how buyers were coming to the console. "In November, PS3 was the only hardware console to see any growth when compared to last November, experiencing an 88% lift and a 122% increase from the previous month," Sony Computer Entertainment America's President Jack Tretton said in a statement. "The sheer appetite and interest in the PS3 this holiday has been overwhelming and is exceeding our expectations." And what about comparatively low Modern Warfare sales? Sony Spokesperson Julie Han said, "We've actually made some important strides this past year on closing the gap with Xbox and have great examples like Fight Night, NCAA Football, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Madden NFL 10, and even Assassin's Creed II from this month, where you can see, based on our install base versus Xbox install base, we're actually tracking better."
Outside of the HD war between Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo had its best month this year. The Nintendo DS sold 1.7 million, more than any other game system this month, portable or otherwise. The Wii sold over 50% more than the Xbox. It is a happy holiday for the House of Mario, despite Modern Warfare 2 (combined sales of 6 million untis) surpassing New Super Mario Bros. Wii (1.39 million units) for top game of the month. If past Nintendo titles are any indication, the new Mario will have legs and will have quality sales next month as well.
It seems the game industry is finally turning around from the recession. NPD analyst Anita Frazier said, "The industry declined 7.6% versus last November, but still produced enough revenue to make this month the second-best November in industry history."