Nintendo might find itself at the bottom of console sales in February, according to estimates by one analyst.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said today in a research note to investors that Nintendo likely sold 305,000 Wii units in the U.S. in February, down 23 percent year over year. Pachter's estimates put the Xbox 360 at the top spot for February, tallying 385,000 unit sales. That figure would be down 9 percent year over year. Sony's PlayStation 3 would see sales decline by 14 percent in Pachter's tally, hitting 310,000 unit sales.
Official sales figures have yet to come out. Market research firm NPD is expected to release February numbers for the gaming industry later this week.
Pachter sees a similar story in the software market. He estimates that Xbox 360 software sales were $185 million in February, easily besting the PlayStation 3's $165 million and Nintendo's $160 million in software revenue.
The fact that Pachter sees the Wii losing the top two spots to Microsoft and Sony says quite a bit about the state of Nintendo's console business. The company reported in January that it sold 7 million Wii units in 2010. However, that figure was down significantly from the 10 million units it sold in 2008 and the more than 9 million units it sold in 2009.
Worst of all for Nintendo, Pachter believes the "sagging demand" for the Wii will "continue at least through March."
It looks like a similar story for Sony. Although the PlayStation 3 was likely able to outpace Wii sales in February, according to Pachter's estimates, the company's PlayStation Move motion-gaming peripheral "has not generated significant sales," the analyst says. Flagging demand for the accessory, which lets users control characters by waving the controller around, could have something to do with the Kinect, Microsoft's answer to the Move and Nintendo Wii.
According to Pachter, he expects "demand for the Xbox 360 to remain stronger than the other consoles due to the popularity of Kinect."
Even so, Pachter believes that all three hardware companies will be instituting price cuts this year. He said that without price cuts across the board, console sales will be behind last year's.
Pachter noted that console prices "remain at historical highs this far into a console cycle." And although he believes a Wii price cut "is long overdue," he thinks Microsoft will be first to cut the price of the Xbox 360, doing so at the E3 Expo in June. Soon thereafter, Pachter thinks Nintendo and Sony will do the same.
By the holiday season, Pachter believes that the Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 will be "at least $50 cheaper than they are today."
Currently, the 250GB Xbox 360 sells for $299.99. Sony's 160GB PlayStation 3 also goes for $299.99. Nintendo's Wii retails for $199.99. Bundles with accessories and games are also available.