Sales of Microsoft’s Xbox games console are rapidly overtaking the flagging Nintendo Wii, boosted by the US group’s new motion-sensing Kinect controller, according to analysts.
The Wii’s dominance of current-generation console sales is being overturned as rivals Microsoft and Sony imitate its success with easy-to-use controllers and games that appeal to a wider audience.
Ahead of official figures on Thursday from the NPD research firm, analysts at Wedbush Morgan Securities expect sales of 1.075m Xbox 360 consoles in November, up 31 per cent on a year ago, compared with 975,000 Wii sales, down 23 per cent. They expect 650,000 Sony PlayStation 3 units sold, down 8 per cent year-on-year.
“We expect strong demand for the Xbox 360 due to the successful debut [in November] for Kinect, and believe that Kinect console bundles sold especially well,” said the analysts in a note.
Microsoft launched the Kinect camera sensor on November 4 as an add-on for existing consoles but also offered it bundled with an Xbox 360 console at a special price. The company raised its original estimates of 3m Kinect sales this year globally to 5m shortly before launch and seems on target to achieve this.
It reported 1m worldwide sales after 10 days and 2.5m after 25 days. The device has been selling out – it is currently available on Amazon’s UK site, but not from Amazon in the US, where other sellers on its site are charging a premium of $100 or more for the $150 device.
The Kinect gives a boost to Microsoft’s so-called living room strategy, where the Xbox is competing with Google, Apple and others in supplying services to internet-connected “smart TVs”.
Kinect encourages the whole family to interact with the TV through gestures, accessing music, movies and services such as ESPN and Sky TV channels, as well as games.
Nintendo may be able to mount a fightback in December – US retailers have been discounting the console and it could benefit from game sales such as its popular Donkey Kong series, the inclusion of the more advanced Motion Plus controller with the Wii and red and black versions of the console.
Sony has reported sales of 4.1m of its Move controllers into retailers worldwide since its launch in September, which translates as about 2.5m sales to consumers, according to analysts.