While game publishers look to retail sales figures to gauge the success of the holiday season, let's take a look at how our favorite games and consoles performed in the shady back-alleys of eBay's 2009 holiday grey market.
It's that time of year again. Time to take a data dive into the heart of eBay U.S. to gauge how well the video game grey market fared during the holiday season. Rather than charting the sales numbers of a specific console, as I've done for the past three years with the Nintendo Wii, this year I'm presenting a broader overview of the eBay grey market, charting the sales for all major gaming platforms during the 30-day period beginning November 26th and ending on Christmas Day. I've compiled data on console sales, game listings, and some of the top-items passing through the popular auction website. If you want to know which platforms thrived, which handheld completely tanked, and the most successful video game-related item on eBay, then read on.
The table below presents a general overview of the sales performance of the major consoles and handheld systems during the month leading up to Christmas. I've listed the total sales in U.S. dollars, the number of items sold, the average selling price, and the sell-through percentage, which indicates the success of auctions posted for each specific product. Check out the table, and then we'll break things out by console.
|Sales||Items Sold||Average Price||Sell-Through|
The PlayStation 3 in all its varied incarnations sold the fewest number of consoles out of the big three this year, but that shouldn't be taken as a measure of the system's success. Indeed, if you look at the sell-through percentage, the PS3 comes out on top. That means there were less people selling, but plenty willing to buy. Since the launch of the PlayStation Slim earlier this year, Sony has maintained a steady supply of the consoles to retail outlets, and the abundance of available consoles equates less people looking for them on eBay.
From a seller's point of view, that high sell-through figure means the PlayStation 3 comes out on top in terms of sales potential.
The highest price PlayStation 3 auctions mainly consisted of limited edition consoles, including the Final Fantasy XIII bundle recently released in Japan.
The Xbox 360 brought in the most money of any console this holiday season, mainly due to its average price being slightly higher than the Nintendo Wii, which pushed more units overall. The Microsoft console's sell-through numbers were only slightly lower than the PlayStation 3. Between that figure and the larger number of consoles put up for sales, it seems like putting a new 360 up for sales is seen as a relatively safe bet among sellers.
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 bundle made up a large portion of the Xbox 360 sales during the period, with 322 of the consoles representing $126,924 worth of sales. The Infinity Ward-flavored bundle went for as high as $900.
eBay sellers continue the love affair with the Wii that started with the console's 2006 holiday debut. The Wii was the top seller of the big three in terms of units sold, but the slightly lower sell-through rate indicates that there might have been a few too many up for sale.
Also note that the average price for the Wii was $190, which is below the suggested retail price. Either sellers were taking advantage of discounts and sales, or they weren't making very much in the way of profits.
The Nintendo DS managed to outsell the newer, more advanced DSi this holiday season, pushing more than 2,000 units beyond what Nintendo's latest North American handheld sold. A failure for the DSi? Not exactly. Take a look at the sell-through percentage and you'll see that the DSi has the largest number of any game console. eBayers wanted to buy them, but the sellers just weren't selling.
The PSP sold strong on eBay this holiday, with the PSP-1000, 2000, and 3000 generating more money than any other handheld, though the DS trumped them with sheer numbers.
The top selling PSP was a used red God of War limited edition PSP, which went for $1,009.
Unfortunately, the PSPgo didn't fare nearly as well as its older brother. In fact, Sony's UMD-less alternative to the regular PSP performed abysmally, pushing only 250 units. It's not a factor of demand behind too high for supply either - the sell-through rate of 76.47% indicates that people simply weren't buying it.
To help paint a more complete picture, let's compare units sold versus monetary sales.
If you look very closely, you'll notice that both graphs do indeed contain the PSPgo. You might need to zoom in.
Games With Legs
Now let's take a look at the games that traded this holiday season. This time around I took the top ten titles sorted by number of auctions, to see which ones were moving the most.
|Number of Auctions||Average Price||Total Sales|
|Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)||2,073||$46||$140,334|
|Modern Warfare 2 (PS3)||1,709||$50||$115,460|
|Wii Sports Resort (with 2 Motion Plus adapters)||1,798||$70||$118,141|
|Lego Batman + Pure Combo (Xbox 360)||1,077||$12||$12,538|
|New Super Mario Bros. Wii||950||$53||$53,461|
|Uncharted 2: Among Thieves||926||$53||$53,661|
|Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360)||838||$25||$18.503|
|Halo 3: ODST||716||$40||$31,197|
|Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360)||686||$43||$31,897|
Certainly not a surprising list. Modern Warfare 2 seems to be showing up at the top of any list as far as sales are concerned these days, and Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort are two of the titles meant to showcase what the Wii can do, so those both sold in droves. World at War traded heavily, perhaps due to people swapping out the old for the new, and the Pure / Lego Batman combo disc packed inside select Xbox 360 consoles over the holiday season scores a tidy profit for those who received it for free.
And Uncharted 2 making the list makes sense, but what about the extremely more expensive edition?
Forty-five of the ultra-rare Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Fortune Hunter Edition made it onto eBay during the 30 days leading up to Christmas, but it seems some sellers set their hopes too high. Of the 45, only 24 sold, giving the package a 53.33% sell-through rate. The average price for the package was $891.52, with one going for as high as $1,136. Didn't get one? Maybe you should have made it to Kotaku's Child's Play fundraiser this year.