Wii Price Drop Puts Nintendo Back On Top In U.S.

Nintendo's late September price cut on the Wii in the U.S. had a big impact on October's sales, making the Wii the bestselling console in the country last month, after being outsold by the PlayStation 3 the previous month.

The Wii moved more than a half-million units to consumers in the United States last month, according to the NPD Group. That's up from the 462,800 it moved in September and more than enough to best its closest competitor, the Nintendo DS.

Sony's September to October performance was less fortunate, dropping from 491,800 to 320,600. On the Microsoft side, things were less worse, with Xbox 360 sales dipping from 352,600 in September to 249,700 in October. Without the sales boosting power of Halo 3: ODST, that puts Microsoft in fourth place in last month's ranking.

Here's how October treated console makers Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, according to NPD, whose reporting period ran from 10/4 to 10/31, a four week span compared to September's five week span.

  • Wii - 506,900
  • Nintendo DS - 457,600
  • PlayStation 3 - 320,600
  • Xbox 360 - 249,700
  • PSP - 174,600
  • PlayStation 2 - 117,800

U.S. consumers spent $380.74 million on video game hardware last month, down 23% from October 2008. While that's not good—not good at all—there is a faint silver lining, according to NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier.

"The video games industry suffered another decline this month as compared to last October," Frazier points out, adding "This is the third best October on record, behind October 2007 and October 2008."

Frazier points to the Wii and Xbox 360 as "decreasing the most compared to October 2008."

And, putting reporting period windows into perspective, Frazier outlines the positives from October.

"Compared to last month, which was a five-week month as compared to four weeks this month, Wii, PSP and NDS sales increased on an average sales per week basis, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 declined," she says.

"On a year-to-date basis, only the Xbox 360 and the NDS have realized unit sales increases over the same time frame last year," Frazier said, find a bit more silver. "While overall portable hardware unit sales are down, dollar sales are up thanks to an increase in the average selling price of portable hardware generated by the higher price points of the new portable systems and bundles."

Thanks to the NPD Group for this month's info.