Microsoft's Xbox 360 dominated the U.S. gaming market last month, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says.
Writing to investors today, Pachter said that Xbox 360 sales hit 1.44 million units in November, representing a 5 percent gain over the same period last year. Microsoft easily outsold both the Wii and PlayStation 3, which saw unit sales reach 1.05 million and 750,000 units, respectively. Wii sales were down 17 percent year over year, but PlayStation 3 sales were up a whopping 41 percent, Pachter reported.
Microsoft's success last month was due mainly to inordinately strong performance during the week of Black Friday. The software giant said last week that it sold 960,000 Xbox 360 units and 750,000 Kinect sensors during that week alone. It was the biggest week in the console's history.
But unit sales are just one piece of the puzzle for Microsoft. The company is launching its new Xbox update tomorrow that, aside from a revamped interface and improved voice-recognition controls, will boast support for new programming from 40 content providers. Over the next month, many of those providers, including Verizon Fios TV and ESPN, will be bringing their content to the console. Next year, HBO Go and Comcast's Xfinity On Demand will be offered to U.S.-based Xbox 360 owners.
The push to live television is something that Microsoft believes will help make the Xbox 360 more than just a device consumers turn on to play games. In fact, Microsoft's goal is to make its console the go-to device for consumers every time they turn on their TVs.
But even with that opportunity to do more, gamers are still flocking to retailers to buy titles for Microsoft's console. In fact, last month, U.S. consumers spent $675 million on Xbox 360 games, Pachter estimates, jumping 12 percent over last year. PlayStation 3 software sales rose 11 percent to $430 million, while Wii sales plummeted 19 percent to land at $260 million.
All told, consumers spent $1.5 billion on video games last month, Pachter said, but he cautioned that it won't be enough to help the game industry get out of the red this year.
"The crowded release schedule triggered competitive behavior, with more marketing spending than we have seen in past Novembers, and we think that the huge marketing push from publishers and competitive retail climate could help sales throughout December," Pachter wrote to investors. "With that said, it is almost a certainty that 2011 will end up as the third consecutive year for declining software sales."
However, Pachter doesn't have the final word on monthly game sales; NPD does. And that firm is expected to make its data available after markets close on Thursday.