Microsoft Slips to No. 2 Behind Nintendo in U.S. Video-Game Console Sales

Nintendo Co.’s Wii edged out Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 as the best-selling video-game console in the U.S. after Microsoft was unable to meet demand for its Kinect motion-sensing peripheral, the companies said.

Nintendo sold more than 2.3 million Wii consoles in December, the Kyoto, Japan-based company said in a statement, citing figures from researcher NPD Group Inc. The company said it sold more than 2.5 million Nintendo DS handheld systems.

Total industry sales for the month fell 9 percent to $5.06 billion from $5.55 billion a year earlier, when Nintendo and Sony Corp. cut prices of their video-game consoles, Port Washington, New York-based NPD said in a statement.

Microsoft sold 1.9 million consoles in December, the biggest one-month total for the Xbox 360, David Dennis, group product manager with Xbox, said today, citing NPD. The figures track sales in the five-week period beginning Nov. 28.

“We would have sold more had we not run out of supply in late December,” Dennis said in an interview. “We air-freighted stuff in December, but you can only sell as many as you can make.”

Retailers will continue to see “pockets of supply constraints” through early February, he said.

Industry sales of software fell 8 percent to $2.37 billion, while sales of accessories including Kinect and Sony’s Move motion-controller jumped 10 percent to $853.2 million, NPD said.

Online Sales

Including games sold or rented digitally and online, video- game sales for the year were unchanged to down 1 percent at $15.4 billion to $15.6 billion, NPD estimated.

“The increasing number of ways to acquire the content has allowed the industry to maintain total consumer spend on content as compared to 2009,” Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst, said in the statement.

Xbox 360, released in November 2005, is benefiting from a June console redesign, followed by the Nov. 4 introduction of the Kinect add-on. Consumers spent $6.2 billion on Xbox hardware and software last year, more than any other console, the company said, citing NPD figures.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has shipped more than 8 million Kinect sensors for its Xbox device, topping the company’s forecasts, and now has 30 million users for the related Xbox Live online service.

NPD stopped reporting unit sales of consoles in September. The industry tracker now releases monthly revenue for video-game hardware, software and peripherals. Console makers are free to report their own unit sales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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