Sony sold only 197,000 units of its PlayStation3 games console in the US last month, well below sales of Nintendo’s rival Wii, because of supply problems.

It had aimed to put 400,000 PS3s into the biggest market for video games for the release of its next-generation machine in November.

But the figures from researcher NPD Group show it achieved less than 200,000.

In contrast, Nintendo’s rival Wii console outsold the PS3 by more than two-to-one, selling 476,000 units in November.

The PS3 went on sale on November 17 and the Wii on November 19.

Both products quickly sold out and have been reaching prices well in excess of their respective $599 and $250 price tags on websites such as eBay.

This has been bad news for video game publishers, who have seen “attach rates” on average of only one game being sold along with every PS3 console and two for the Wii, rather than the three or four that would normally be expected.

Both companies could clearly sell far more units if they could get supplies into the market.

Sony suffered a manufacturing setback with the Blu-ray player incorporated in the PS3, but analysts now expect full production to lift available units in the US to 600,000-800,000 by the end of the year.

Nintendo said on Friday Wii sales reached 600,000 in the Americas region in its first eight days of availability.

It also said it had sold 55 per cent of all video game systems in November, with 920,000 units of its handheld Nintendo DS machine and 642,000 Game Boy Advance sales.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console also appeared to have benefited from the hype around the new launches and from the frustration of gamers unable to buy the new products.

It outsold both the PS3 and Wii with 511,000 units.

Mr Pachter said the 360 was not as much a beneficiary as he had expected, perhaps due to the $400 price tag for its premium version.

The real winner was the PlayStation2, he said, which sold 663,000 units after Sony dropped the price from $149 to $129.

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