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Pre-Christmas Video Game Sales Explode

As expected, Sony’s PlayStation2 video game console, with ample inventories of players and software titles, was leading the pre-Christmas video game race, but both Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube systems were hot tickets that remained in oversold conditions.

Sony Computer Entertainment America reported that Thanksgiving week sales exceeded its original product forecasts, despite the current economic conditions. The company said it sold an additional 1.5 million PlayStation 2 systems since Thanksgiving week, bringing the overall installed base to 6.5 million units since its October 2000 debut.

In addition, PlayStation and PlayStation2 software sales accounted for more than two thirds of the video game software market during November, according to the TRSTS reports from the NPD Group.

Sony executives said the Xbox and GameCube launches “had no impact on sales” of PlayStation2 or PS one consoles. Consumers purchased more than 317,000 PlayStation2 units and 100,000 PS one consoles during the week of Nov. 19, Sony said. PlayStation2 sales rose more than 62 percent from the week prior.

The sales volume remained consistent for the week of November 26 when the company reported selling more than 321,000 PlayStation units, with PS one taking another 100,000-unit week.

America Online reported that PlayStation2 was one of the top three most-searched terms on its proprietary Shopping Search feature. The installed base of PlayStation2 in North America was said to be more than 6 million units since its debut 13 months ago.

Meanwhile, Nintendo of America reported as this went to press that GameCube sales reached 1.1 million units, with more than 800,000 sold through in the U.S., Canada and Latin America markets. Nintendo said it is shipping more than 100,000 units a week to replenish supplies and the company’s Japanese parent announced it would increase system production.

In software sales, Nintendo said the just-released Super Smash Brothers Melee had sold more than 250,000 units in nine days “making it, by far, the fastest selling game for any new console launched this year.”

Nintendo said more than 21 GameCube titles are now available and 37 will be out by the end of the fiscal year. The company said the top-selling video game system overall in November was its handheld Game Boy Advance. Nintendo said that combined sales of all of its platforms have achieved Nintendo’s best-selling U.S. holiday season in its 17-year history, and that the video game industry would garner a record $8 billion in retail revenue in 2001, up 19 percent over 2000.

At press time Microsoft had not issued sales volume for its Xbox, but Credit Suisse First Boston estimated the company sold a total of 738,000 units by December 1, after just 16 days at retail. The firm added that 1.74 million Xbox software units were sold in the same time, giving Xbox a 2.4:1 tie in ratio.

CSFB said that GameCube sales volume “dropped dramatically,” after the Xbox release.

However, CFSB said Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance surged with 260,000 sales, bringing that system’s install base to 3.1 million in the United States.

Hot Game Boy Advance software titles included Grand Theft Auto 3,.WWF Smackdown by THQ and the Harry Potter series from Electronic Arts.