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Opinion

Xbox 360 Extends Lead Over PS3

While the PS2 clings on to its overall lead.

Now that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have all released their financial results for the quarter to March 31st 2011 we can take an updated look at the worldwide console sales situation.  If you have read our reports of those financial results you will have some idea of how the console wars are going but some of this should still be of interest.

It has taken longer than expected to pull all the numbers together, mainly due to the contents of the final graph, so there is less time to put some words together and the graphs themselves will have to do most of the talking with a minimum of commentary.

First though, let’s get some numbers out of the way.  This table shows the millions of unit sales for the current consoles from The Big Three™ during each of the last four quarters and forms the basis for the first two graphs.

Now while that table is telling us a great deal the relationships between the numbers are easier to understand when shown in a graph.  Here then is the data from just the ‘Jan-Mar’ column which is the last quarter for which we have data.

The 3DS had a relatively quiet launch due to a number of factors but considering it was only available for the last month of the quarter in Japan and less than a week in other markets but it was still easily the best selling console of the quarter.

Around 900,000 units behind the 3DS we find the 360.  Many might have expected the PS3 to take second but instead it lags the 360 by 600,000 sales.  Kinect has undoubtedly provided a big boost to the 360’s sales it is simply a question of whether Microsoft can show enough desirable Kinect games to continue the momentum.  We should have something of an answer to that in around a week.

Given that the PSP scores so many weekly sales wins in Japan you might be surprised to see it behind the DS.  It becomes clearer when you remember that these figures here are global sales.  During the year to March 31st Japanese DS sales only accounted for 13% of the total.  Sales in The Americas made up the largest proportion, 48%, with the rest of the world buying the remaining 39%.  Given that the PSP seems now only to be selling well in Japan that explains why those millions of PSPs being used to play Monster Hunter could not take fourth spot away from the DS.

There is not much to be said about the Wii and PS2 propping up the table.  The Wii’s sales have been sliding for some time and it is being replaced next year.  While the PS2 just refuses to give up like a zombie with both legs shot off dragging itself along the ground to bite you on the ankle.

This next graph takes the whole of that first table and turns it into a sweet-tasting, multi-coloured piece of graphical confectionery.

What a difference the extra nine months make.  The DS shows what a dominant handheld it has been for most of its life and it is just that final quarter where its sales have fallen off a cliff like the grip on a Pirelli Formula 1 tyre.

The Wii’s extraordinary sales during the holiday period make it the best selling home console, 800,000 ahead of the PS3, which in turn is 1 million ahead of the 360.

That graph gives a clearer indication of just how much Sony need the NGP, or whatever it will end up being called, to revive their handheld fortunes with the 3DS aiming to make it the worst selling handheld.  That job will become much easier for it in a few weeks with, arguably, the release of first of the 3DS’ big titles, the Ocarina Of Time remake.

Let’s now zoom out again to take an even broader look at the console sales and consider them over the entire life of each console.  Sometimes when we have done this in the past we have wondered what it would look like if the sales of the current consoles were compared to those we grew up with.  Well wonder no more…

The numbers for the fondly remembered consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are relatively easy to get from the three companies.  As we desired to include the Sega consoles though that complicated things as to the best of our knowledge Sega never published any unit sales figures for them.

To check we have just been through many years of financial and annual reports from Sega both before and after it merged with Sammy to no avail.  So the sales figures for the Sega consoles are the most seemingly reliable or agreed upon that we have been able to find from independent sources.

The Sega story told on the graph is a sad one to the many of us that grew up with their consoles.  With the aid of some missteps from Sega itself Sony effectively stole their place in the market as the slightly more grown up/less family-friendly home console and took advantage of changing lifestyles and fashions to grow it to a size Sega could only ever have dreamed of.

This generation certainly has not played out how we expected.

Sony have made their own missteps with the PS3 which is likely to struggle to reach the sales of the original PlayStation, let alone the PS2.  Microsoft’s rush to market with the Xbox 360, despite the reliability problems that hurried development seems to have caused initially, has broken Sony’s home console dominance.

It has looked like the PS3 was getting ready to overtake the 360 in sales as it hit its stride, however over the last two quarters the Kinect-powered reinvigoration of the 360’s sales has see it first halt and then reverse that trend.

Nintendo’s Wii has beaten them both though by creating an growing a market that most did not think existed before its launch, a market that Sony and Microsoft both now covet, and in doing so has broken out of the mid-table position occupied by its Nintendo home console stablemates.

As this console generation dawned the expectations were that the PlayStation 3 would continue its predecessor’s dominance, the Xbox 360 would like the first Xbox probably become just and also-ran and that nobody would buy the under-powered Wii.

Given how wrong the majority of opinions were as we find ourselves on the cusp of the next generation, eagerly awaiting our first look at Nintendo’s next home console in just a matter of days, does anyone dare to make a prediction about what such a graph might look like in another five or six years?

Note: The sales figures for the Sega Nomad that are not visible on the chart are 1 million.  It is probably also the only one that does not warrant the ‘fondly remembered’ label.

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61 Comments
  1. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I knew the PS2 had sold millions but i didn’t know it has sold nearly 160million units. I think there may not be another console which could beat the PS2’s record. The DS has a good chance but with the release of the 3DS, i think Ninty will focus on that. What was the Sega Nomad? If Sony pulls out all of the stops and keep releasing excellent exclusives,they may be able to outsell MS within 6-13 months.The Wii in a year or two may be able to surpass the PS1 in sales. I think the downfall of Sega as a console company was due to the poor timing when they released the Dreamcast. Everyone knew the PS2 was coming and the PS1 had managed to create a lot of hype for the Playstation brand. The Dreamcast didn’t stand a chance. I wonder who will dominate the market this generation and the next one?

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 21:05.
  2. deadwelsh
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    cant believe how poorly the original xbox sold in comparison to the others, makes you wonder why they even made the 360!

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 21:16.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      The original Xbox was simply to get a foot in the door, and the 360 then to bust it wide open. MS never expected to sell more than the PS2, and was largely using the “we’re more powerful” route and living off the sales of Halo and Halo 2 to establish themselves as a contender for the next round.

      It wasn’t a failure by any means, either, as they managed to outsell Nintendo by a couple million, got XBL up and running several years before PSN and whatever the Wii’s online is called. That makes it the most mature of the three’s online offerings.

      Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 00:24.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Yep, Yep, Yep. Also, Microsoft were sticking to a long-term strategy and knew the original Xbox endeavour would be a massive loss-leader, although I’m not sure they were fully prepared to the tune of $4 billion. However, this was, once again, all part of the plan for this and future generations as well as market acceptance as a gaming device.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 00:41.
  3. david
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    Only 3.6 million units behind? And also, Kinect is out now – the hype is over so what have MS got now bar a handful of exclusives compared to Sonys 20+.

    Its a close race but this race isnt over until the next generation console from MS or Sony is released and then we can say who won or not.

    /…pinch of salt and all that.

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 21:17.
    • Watchful
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Oct 2008

      But 3 months ago the PS3 was only 3.0 million units behind. 360 sales are accelerating to record levels while PS3 sales are slowing!

      The PS3 sold fewer units in Oct ’10 to Mar ’11 than it did in Oct ’09 to Mar ’10.

      Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:20.
      • JesseDeya
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        One quarter is not a trend, it’s an anomaly associated with Kinect. I only have two things to suggest how it won’t continue to slow for Sony…

        E

        3

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 08:49.
  4. damoxuk
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    Erm how can 360 have extended the lead when the PS3 sold more than 360 in last fiscal year overall?

    Explain it to me as i’m not understanding it :)

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:19.
    • Watchful
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Oct 2008

      Because the 360’s lead is 600k more than it was 3 months ago. Simples. :)

      Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:26.
  5. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    The next quarter’s figures are going to be a nightmare for Sony, purely because of the hack.
    I wonder how much of a difference that will make to sales?

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:20.
  6. Lewis Murray
    Banned
    Since: Feb 2011

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:34.
    • Lewis Murray
      Banned
      Since: Feb 2011

      This comment is hidden.

      Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:35.
      • Dancing is forbidden
        Banned
        Since: Apr 2010

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:31.
    • colmshan1990
      Member
      Since: Apr 2009

      He’s talking quarter to quarter in overall figures.
      3 months ago, the PS3 was closing in on overall figures, having cut the 360’s lead to 3 million.
      Now, the lead is 3.6 million.
      Therefore, the lead is extended.
      And he’s only talking about figures, he’s not claiming that the 360 is better or anything.
      The article isn’t a fanboy thing at all, but an appreciated regular fixture around these parts.

      Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 22:48.
    • Dancing is forbidden
      Banned
      Since: Apr 2010

      This comment is hidden.

      Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:25.
      • Dancing is forbidden
        Banned
        Since: Apr 2010

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:38.
      • toutski
        Legend
        Since: Oct 2008

        What is sensationalist about posting manufacturers figures? It’s basically an article of facts, or ‘can you not handle the truth?’.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:41.
      • Dancing is forbidden
        Banned
        Since: Apr 2010

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:44.
      • Dancing is forbidden
        Banned
        Since: Apr 2010

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:46.
      • toutski
        Legend
        Since: Oct 2008

        Or he could have lead with ‘PS2 still console leader’? Or maybe he lead with that title because it’s a fact as stated in the figures?

        The point of these articles is that Greg trawls through the manufacturers figures and puts them in a format that Joe Bloggs can read and understand. Other articles may have a hint of sensationalism but definitely not these ones.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:50.
      • Dancing is forbidden
        Banned
        Since: Apr 2010

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:53.
      • toutski
        Legend
        Since: Oct 2008

        I said ‘may’ and it is surely a matter of opinion…

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:54.
      • unclebob
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        You like telling it how it is?

        Then you’ll appreciate the hard figures which actually show the the title explains the content of the article extremely well.

        If it was the other way around and Sony had narrowed the gap further and not fell a bit further behind as well as not sold as many as the previous year I suspect you’d have your flags out and along with a few other commenters above be posting “SONY RULEZZZZZZ!” or something.

        Comment posted on 29/05/2011 at 23:55.
      • Colinbarr66
        Any tag other than 'Member'
        Since: Mar 2009

        If you aren’t happy then you should go somewhere else for news, it’s what I’ve done in the past and it always works out for the best. Also this isn’t a fanboy baiting article, this is a piece which idiotic fanboys can target as it compares Microsoft and Sony.

        While you are entitled to your opinion of the site I disagree with you on every one you have expressed. The site is great and has changed over the past few years but I don’t see a negative effect on the content. If the site is going the way you claimed then there would be a much larger volume of complains from those who have read the sure for years, which I’m not hearing.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 00:02.
    • Awayze
      Member
      Since: Jul 2010

      I agree, this article is written biased towards the 360, mainly the title.

      Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 06:28.
    • JesseDeya
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      “Biggest bunch of tripe I think I have ever read. How on earth can you use the term extending the lead (when referring to the Xbox), when the PS3 outsold it in all the previous quarters…

      Pathetic fanboy fuel, you should be ashamed…”

      I wouldn’t have put it quite as bluntly as you Lewis, but you’re essentially right.

      Assuming Watchful’s analysis of the sales data is correct and tells the whole story, you still have to wonder how on Earth you can conclude it paints an overall positive picture for Microsoft.

      Apr – Jun 2010: PS3 outsells 360 by 900,000
      Jul – Sep: PS3 outsells 360 by 700,000
      Oct – Dec: PS3 and 360 even, despite massive sale push by MS and $500 million spent advertising Kinect.
      Jan – Mar: 360 outsells PS3 by 600,000.

      The net effect is PS3 1 million units closer to matching lifetime sales with 360 (despite starting 7 million units down), and somehow that’s MS extending their lead???

      Kinect was the best shot MS had at stemming the flow, and 600,000 was the best they could manage. Blind Freddy can see the line up for the rest of the year is in Sony’s favour so MS will need to pull a miracle granting dream rabbit out of their cirque-de-soleil during E3 to not lose more ground to Sony by the end of this year.

      The only ‘good’ thing that has happened to MS lately was Sony getting f’d by hackers. The next quarter ‘might’ be a bit lean for Sony too, but if you remove natural disasters and arseholes from the equation I’m sure it would be quite strong.

      Certainly if VG Chartz can be believed, the PS3 has outsold the 360 EVERY SINGLE WEEK since the beginning of March. So much for losing momentum.

      Don’t get me wrong, I own and enjoy my 360, but I don’t enjoy one of my favourite gaming sites posting this kind of… fud.

      Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 09:26.
      • unclebob
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        Spouting utter crap as usual

        The article is about the quarter Jan to Mar
        The title explains that, all of the text in the first couple of paragraphs explains that
        The graphs show that.

        Not that anything ever gets passed your Sony tinted glasses

        Whilst there could be an article about the year as a whole, this isn’t it! Making your comment as void as most of your others.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 13:04.
      • JesseDeya
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Wtf is your problem bob?

        The article includes not one, but TWO graphs listing the sales figures for the past 12 months. It also discusses lifetime sales and includes a pretty graph to illustrate. So NO, this article isn’t exclusively about the previous quarter, the titles doesn’t explain that, the first paragraph doesn’t explain that and the graphs don’t explain that.

        Given that, I’ll feel free to discuss the sales situation as it should be discussed… in context. Is it significant MS made back 600,000 in the first quarter? Yes. Is it a given they have now reversed the trend. No. We’ve seen this ebb and flow before over the past 5 years and still Sony has managed to close the gap year after year. You might not like it (for some reason), but it doesn’t stop it being fact.

        It’s largely academic at this point, both consoles are hugely successful. MS has done well to wrestle half of Sony’s customers away, and Sony has done well to catch MS up despite coming to market later and having a higher price point.

        If you have something educated to say that might refute my point I’m all ears. If you’re going to resort to insults, welcome to my ignore list.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 15:02.
      • unclebob
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        The article is about quarterly figures,

        It seems you want it to be about something else, presumably so it fits in with your new I Love PlayStation T-shirt, socks & tie. Get over it, I’m embarrassed for you and your never-ending flag waving.

        You only ever comment in reply to anything that isn’t negative about the 360, just so something negative is said.

        Article about quarterly figures is about quarterly figures. Sorry they don’t fit in with what you /need/ them to.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 21:17.
      • JesseDeya
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        I didn’t think you could reply without resorting to witless quips. Well done.

        If you had a clue, which clearly you don’t, you would notice I reply positively quite often to 360 articles. I have nothing against the 360 and am more than happy for it to do well, I own both, I play both and as it stands neither are going to do much to dominate the other at this point in time.

        PS: Welcome to my ignore list. You made a few other lists too, but I don’t like to be unessarily vulgar on TSA.

        Comment posted on 31/05/2011 at 02:31.
  7. Awayze
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    Out of those 3.6 million how many have suffered RROD? there’s 7 dead 360’s between my friends and family.
    Sony just need to advertise it’s games and the console. They should advertise MW3 as ON PS3 the way MS did in 2009….,

    Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 00:59.
  8. hate_smith
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    Competition is good for the consumers. One company trying to get a jump on the other is the only way we seem to get improvements. I hope the console/fanboy wars continue for a long time to come.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2011 at 01:03.
  9. thedriffter50
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    ” Competition is good for the consumers. One company trying to get a jump on the other is the only way we seem to get improvements. I hope the console/fanboy wars continue for a long time to come.”

    Not sure about that. Microsoft’s game line-up is pathetic compared to PS3’s.

    I own both systems so I’m not a fanboy in fact I like the 360 controller better but even with games like Uncharted 3, Infamous 2 and Killzone 3 Microsoft still isn’t bothered to give us any games that isn’t a FPS.

    Seems last gen was better games wise and PS2 didn’t even have any real competition.

    Comment posted on 01/06/2011 at 22:33.

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