Face-Off: Microsoft vs. Sony on February Game Sales

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Xbox 360 vs. PS3

Microsoft and Sony each realized slight gains in February 2010 console unit sales year over year, and, predictably, they each have their own spin on NPD's retail sales data.

In January the Xbox 360 sold 333k units, a 7 percent year-over-year gain. Last month, Microsoft sold 422k units, an 8 percent year-over-year gain, or further indication the system's making small if steady gains.

On the other hand, Sony sold 277k units in January (+36%) and 360k units in February (+30%), much larger year-over-year- gains, though you could argue that's because Sony's had nowhere but up to go after years of depressing monthly numbers.

In an email, Microsoft called February 2010 its "biggest February in Xbox 360 history" and attributed that to "a stellar portfolio of exclusive blockbuster games, a fresh pipeline of new content on Xbox LIVE and high anticipation for controller-free gaming and entertainment with 'Project Natal' for Xbox 360." Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business COO Dennis Durkin believes February's NPD results indicate 2010 will be the company's "biggest...and best...in Xbox history."

Sony's take on the NPD figures carried similar overtones, and the company cited "incredible demand for PlayStation 3" while suggesting the system's sales numbers would be even higher, but for "tight inventory" issues. Sony says it's still on track to sell 13 million PS3s worldwide by end of March, culminating in a 30 percent increase over the company's prior fiscal year.

Microsoft's narrative? Strong and steady sales growth.

Sony's? Comeback city, currently constrained by supply issues.

Both companies then turned to 2010 prospects.

Microsoft highlighted its new $400 Final Fantasy XIII special edition 250GB Xbox 360 bundle, the upcoming May 3rd Halo: Reach multiplayer beta, and cited a recent NPD online study which noted nearly half of all online gamers are using the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, outspending PC gamers in online hours per week (7.3 hours vs. 6.6 hours).

Sony name-checked its noir-adventure Heavy Rain (a "breakout title"), noting its top 10 positioning despite only a single week of sales, end of February. The company believes God of War III will be "a multi-million unit seller and hardware driver" when it launches on March 16 in the US (. Also name-checked: ModNation Racers, a kind of hybrid content-creation kart racers, Gran Turismo 5, and SOCOM 4, none of which have firm release dates, but all due to ship later this year. Sony closed by mentioning the PlayStation Move, which officially debuted at GDC 2010 this week, and said "2010 will be one of our best years ever for PS3."

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