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Nintendo products to form the basis of a new Utopic society.

michelangelo1.jpgReuters, Jan 22 2008: Leading economists are warning that the only chance the United States will avoid slipping into recession is if it successfully transitions to an entirely Nintendo DS-based economy, a process begun in secret by the Treasury during Q4 2007.

And so another holiday season is all over, but the cryin'. Once again, given the lack of anything else going on in my life, I turn to the monthly sales data released for the month of December, courtesy of the NPD group.

Hardware Sales (Annual 2007 in brackets)

Nintendo DS 2.47 million (8.50 million)

Wii 1.35 million (6.29 million)

Xbox 360 1.26 million (4.62 million)

PlayStation 2 1.1 million (3.97 million)

PlayStation Portable 1.06 million (3.82 million)

PlayStation 3 797.6K (2.56 million)

Top 10 Software Sales

360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 1.47 million

Wii Super Mario Galaxy 1.40 million

PS2 Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock 1.25 million

Wii Wii Play (w. Remote) 1.08 million

360 Assassin's Creed 894K

360 Halo 3 743K

NDS Brain Age 2 660K

PS2 Madden NFL 08 655K

360 Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock 625K

Wii Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games 613K

Percentage gain over November sales:

Wii: 37%

Xbox 360: 64%

PS3: 71%

PS2: 122%

DS: 61%

PSP: 87%

The first thing that jumps out is the astounding performance of the Nintendo DS, which, statistics suggest, are so prevalent in America right now, you may be accidentally sitting on one as you read this. Aside from the DS, all the other platforms sold fairly predictably. Everyone's sales were up substantially, aside from the Wii, whose sales were likely constrained by supply problems, which you may have heard about everywhere else on the Internet. Anecdotal evidence suggests that for every Wii sold, stores were receiving dozens of phone calls inquiring after one, so some extremely loose math implies that Nintendo could have sold as many as 30 million Wii's last month.

You can't get this kind of analysis anywhere folks.

The PS3 continues to pull up the rear of the console race - even trailing behind it's older, slower, probably-stupider brother for the second straight Christmas. Admittedly, PS3 sales did get a decent holiday boost, and have climbed up from selling a quarter as many as the Wii during the summer months to better than half. So there's hope yet for Sony fans, particularly with the latest entries in the Metal Gear and Grand Theft Auto series due to hit in 2008. Still, having surrendered this large of a lead in the console race, one wonders whether Sony will be able to garner anything other than a "healthy" third place finish this generation - past "healthy" third place finishers including the TurboGrafx16, Sega's Saturn and Dreamcast, and the Nintendo Gamecube - so, you know, good company.

On the software front, COD4 and Mario reprise their roles from the November stats with big December numbers as well. Guitar Hero also solidified it's reputation as the franchise of 2007. If you count sales for both GHII and GHIII across all platforms, Guitar Hero games sold umpteen fuckton million copies this year, and in the process, made umpteen fucktons of money for Activision, who, now that we think about it, appear to be investing it all in Nintendo DS's.

Also popping up on the Top 10 this month is the most recent Brain Age for the DS. DS software rarely cracks the top 10 in sales, which is somewhat surprising given the handheld's enormous user base. The relative lack of DS software on the top 10 list is yet more evidence that casual gamers don't buy many games. Something for software developers to think about, although given that the development costs for Brain Age 2 are probably measured in the thousands, the economics of casual gaming does have its advantages as well.

And what will 2008 have in store? I'm inclined to predict more of the same, but that's pretty boring, so I won't. Instead, I'll go ahead and stake a claim that the PS3 will catch up with and surpass the Xbox360 (in monthly sales) at some point in 2008. Why? Two reasons:

1) These days it seems to be the "conventional wisdom" that the Xbox 360 has "stolen" the "hardcore" market from Sony. (If it helps, imagine me saying all that with fingerquotes, then imagine punching me in the face for doing so) The theory goes that PS2 owners, frustrated at the price and lack of content on the PS3 have all bought 360's. I don't buy it, and here's why:

sales.JPG

That's the worldwide sales since launch for the first 3 years of the Xbox, the 360 and, as a baseline, the PS2. (courtesy vgchartz.com) The 360 has definitely sold better than the original Xbox (by about 25%) but it hasn't sold astoundingly well, particularly when compared to the PS2 or Wii. Given that, and the fact there's still something like 100 million odd PS2 owners out there who haven't bought any next generation system yet, I find it hard to believe that the 360 has the hardcore market completely sewn up.

2) With its semi-reasonable price and probably-dominant Blu-Ray player, the PS3 is looking like a better deal every day. I'm betting that when GTA 4, and especially Metal Gear Solid 4 come out, a whole slew of PS2 users will trade up - look for a big PS3 sales spike in the spring and summer. I've never been able to figure out why those terrible fucking Metal Gear games are so popular, but much like rap music and oral sex, it seems these days that the kids can't get enough. Don't ask me how the world works.

Have something to add? Go ahead and add your comments below, or join the discussion in the forum!

___ Chris Bucholz is a writer and a robot. His personal blog, robotmantheblog.com contains a great deal of other humor articles, all of dubious quality and taste.

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