Face-Off: Sony Sings of PS3 Growth, Microsoft Teases E3 Reveals

Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3

It's who-said-what about NPD's March 2010 video game sales numbers time again, replete with buckets of hyperbolic tags like "blockbuster," "huge," "best," "shattered," and "hotly anticipated." Yep, Microsoft and Sony just published their talking points for last month's retail video game revenues, so brace up, and once more unto the spin!

In the winner's corner, Microsoft says it'll be "unveiling the future of fun" starting June 13 as part of the pre-E3 trade show ballyhoo. The company claims it's "maintaining its hardware and software sales momentum" as it gets ready to pitch "some of the biggest entertainment experiences of the year."

Microsoft highlighted its "65 percent" sales share of EA's multi-platform Battlefield: Bad Company 2. That adds up to 826,000 units sold in the US, and, says Microsoft, contributed to the Xbox 360's month and life-to-date third-party game sales lead. All told, third-party publisher sales tallied $191 million in March, "more than any other console," according to Microsoft.

The company couldn't resist pimping its upcoming (May 3) Halo: Reach multiplayer beta, coyly intimating the latter bolstered its 338,000 in Xbox 360 unit sales. Whether the upcoming Halo-series prequel starring not-Master-Chief represents the "best-in class multiplayer elements...fused with a range of new content and features," of course remains to be seen.

Don't forget Alan Wake, the Xbox 360-exclusive "psychological action thriller," says Microsoft, which "will undoubtedly help grow Xbox 360's already industry-leading software attach rate of 8.8 games" in March 2010. (If it's really Twin Peaks meets Lost meets Stephen King, I'm all over this one, even if it's late, and developed by Remedy Entertainment, the guys responsible for thud-worthy priors like Max Payne and Max Payne 2.) Also: Microsoft pinged Gears of War III, just announced on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, though still a full year away.

Does Xbox LIVE really deliver "more entertainment to more people than any other service"? No surprise, Microsoft thinks so, pointing to Modern Warfare 2's "Stimulus Package" downloadable content sales, which "shattered Xbox LIVE records as more than one million gamers worldwide downloaded the map pack in the first 24 hours."

Also in the winner's corner, Sony came out punching with its predictable "only console to see double digit growth" claims (see last month's face-off for more of same). Those claims aren't inaccurate, but they're entirely glass-half-full. The just as plausible glass-half-empty analysis would highlight how poorly the PS3 sold in 2009, prior to the slim-sized PS3's debut and commensurate $100 price drop in August 2009.

Is consumer demand really "incredibly high" for the PS3? Sony thinks so, claiming "supply will continue to be tight across...retail channels in the next few months."

In software sales, Sony touted God of War III (March's number one selling single SKU) and noted the PS3 version of Final Fantasy XIII "sold nearly double the Xbox version" (is it the first time a multi-platform SKU sold better on the PS3?). Four of the top 10 slots were PS3 titles, possibly a system record, and Sony says the PlayStation brand "made up 31 percent of the total video game dollar share" in March.

While Sony didn't mention E3, it claimed "healthy momentum" from a "blockbuster lineup of games" including MAG, Heavy Rain, White Knight Chronicles, MLB 10 The Show, and God of War III. According to Sony, that's just "the first quarter of many anticipated games like ModNation Racers, Gran Turismo 5, and others [the company has] yet to announce this year."

And the winner is...

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