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How the Wii saved Christmas

The video game industry saw a 14 percent year-over-year growth in December largely due to outstanding sales of the Nintendo Wii and DS game systems.
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Written by Brendan Sinclair on
The video-game industry-tracking NPD Group is preparing to release its US retail sales data for December, but one analyst is already calling the month yet another big win for Nintendo.

In a sales preview note to investors, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich predicted the NPD numbers would show that software sales for the month would total $2.7 billion. That would not only match last December's record-high monthly take, but it would also reflect a 14 percent year-over-year growth for the industry. Furthermore, Divnich said that half of those game sales were attributable to Nintendo's market-expanding one-two punch, the Wii and DS.

"Without these sales, the industry would have likely felt the full wrath of the recession--much like other industries closely linked to gaming," Divnich said. "We believe their simple-to-use design, cheaper and wider variety of software titles, and the already 'hot effect' in place on both systems, all played a role in driving both the Wii and the DS to the top of their segments. Simply put, Nintendo saved Christmas."

Divnich also released his expected top 10 sales lists for hardware and software, with Nintendo atop both. The analyst projects that 3.2 million Wiis were sold in the US last month--which would be another record-breaking performance--with the DS not far behind at 3 million sold.

Although Nintendo ruling the hardware roost is nothing new, Divnich also predicted that a handful of the Wii's top 10 mainstays have experienced a sales surge that pushed them to the top of the charts. The analyst pegged the Wii Play With Wii Remote bundle as the best-selling software for the month, adding another 1.3 million sold to its already sizable lifetime totals. Divnich also projected Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, and Wii Music to represent Nintendo in the remainder of the top 10 list.

The NPD numbers could have the gaming industry closing out the year on a high note, but Divnich cautions investors not to expect a repeat performance for 2009.

"Currently, EEDAR expects high single-digit increases for software sales in 2009," Divnich said. "We believe that there exists a significant amount of upside to these figures but that will vary widely depending on hardware pricing and the Nintendo Wii's momentum."

EEDAR projected top 10 software sales for December, 2008

Wii Play (Wii)--1.3 million
Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360)--1.2 million
Mario Kart (Wii)--1.2 million
Wii Fit (Wii)--1 million
Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)--800,000
Call of Duty: World at War (PS3)--650,000
Madden NFL 09 (Xbox 360)--500,000
Left 4 Dead (Xbox 360)--500,000
Prince of Persia (Xbox 360)--475,000
Wii Music (Wii)--425,000

EEDAR projected hardware sales for December, 2008

Nintendo Wii--3.2 million
Nintendo DS--3 million
Xbox 360--1.5 million
PSP--880,000
PS3--700,000

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