In the all-important holiday shopping month of December, the Xbox One was the more popular next-gen console among U.S. gamers, according to the NPD Group.
“The newest consoles from Microsoft and Sony are off to a tremendous start,” NPD’s David Riley wrote in an email. “Xbox One led consoles sales in December, while PS4’s two-month total makes it the best-selling console during the two-month launch window.”
The best-selling gaming hardware in terms of units moved was the handheld Nintendo 3DS, which starts at $170. However, the report states, the $500 Xbox One was the overall winner by dollars.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 topped the charts in the NPD’s November report. At that time, though, it was hard to evaluate its victory over Microsoft’s Xbox One because the PS4 had an additional seven days on store shelves that month to work with.
The newer PlayStation 4 is ahead globally, with about a million more units moved through the end of 2013 vs. the Xbox One, according to Sony and Microsoft’s self-reported sales figures. An emailed statement from Sony called the PS4 “the cumulative leader for next-gen console sales in the U.S.”
Also of note: Nintendo’s Wii U had its best month on record, after a first year on the market that could be generously called “troubled.” Physical retail sales for software (about half of the overall game sales market) across all consoles were down 17 percent year over year, from $1.54 billion to $1.28 billion, a drop that NPD attributed to fewer new releases at the tail end of 2013.
Comparing the whole of 2013 to 2012, gaming hardware sales were up five percent, from $4.04 billion to $4.26 billion. Overall software sales were down 11 percent, from $7.09 billion to $6.34 billion.
Microsoft sold 908,000 Xbox Ones in the U.S. in December, as well as 643,000 units of its last-gen console, the Xbox 360, according to a company-emailed statement. For most of the past three years, the 360 was the top-selling gaming console in the U.S, beating Sony’s earlier PlayStation 3.
“Supply was constrained a bit back in November, but it’s starting to normalize,” David Dennis, Microsoft director of program management told Re/code. “It’s definitely the biggest Xbox launch we’ve ever had.”
Going forward, Microsoft will no longer be announcing Xbox One sales by the millions as it has done since launch, Dennis said, but rather will be updating sales numbers in its quarterly earnings reports. The company will post its most recent earnings next week.