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March 13, 2008 3:30 PM

Game consoles: Sony PS3 outsells Microsoft Xbox 360 for the second month in a row

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

For the second month in a row, Sony's PlayStation 3 outsold Microsoft's Xbox 360, according to U.S. sales data for February from The NPD Group.

As the two higher-end consoles duke it out, Nintendo's Wii, which is in the midst of several sought-after game and accessory launches this spring, continued to run away with the market.

Here's how the numbers break down:
Nintendo Wii: 432,000
Sony PlayStation 3: 280,800
Microsoft Xbox 360: 254,600

Microsoft's performance is suffering from a "supply constrained situation," in the language of the company's PR team.

The PS3's sales lead over the Xbox was smaller in February than January, when it outsold the 360 by about 39,000 units.

But the PS3's predecessor, PlayStation 2, still managed to grow its unit sales year-over-year in February, outselling both the PS3 and the 360 -- meaning Sony's total share of the console market is even larger. PS2 sold 351,800 units in February.

NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier was surprised by the PS2's "staying power in the marketplace," noting that it has earned a spot among the current-generation platforms. "[T]he fact that it realized such significant growth this month is really a testament to its broad adoption and the response of consumers to promotional activity at retail," Frazier wrote in comments distributed with NPD's figures.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported late yesterday that Microsoft is "not in talks" to equip the Xbox 360 with a Blu-ray player. The company's plans for high-definition DVD playback on the 360 have been murky since the format it was backing -- HD DVD -- finally cratered last month. Reuters spoke with Xbox 360 group product manager Aaron Greenberg, who said Microsoft would continue investing in Xbox Live, which offers movie downloads, including HD content.

Greenberg also softened the blow of a second consecutive month in which Xbox 360 sales trailed the PS3, telling Reuters that Microsoft expected it because of continuing supply problems. "By April, we will be in a very healthy inventory situation," he told Reuters.

That's when another hot title, "Grand Theft Auto IV," from Take-Two, is set to hit the market. But by then, it could be an Electronic Arts title because the giant game studio today took its Take-Two takeover attempt hostile, offering $26 a share directly to Take-Two shareholders.

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