'Madden '08' dominates August charts

The NFL isn’t just having a big year on TV.

Electronic Arts’ latest edition of its football franchise, “Madden NFL’08,” dominated the videogame sales charts in August, taking three of the top four and six of the top 20 spots, according to new data from the NPD group.

Among console makers, Microsoft was the biggest beneficiary. “Madden” for the Xbox 360 was the biggest game of the month, selling nearly 900,000 units in the U.S., a sign of the 360’s continuing dominance among avid gamers. Game’s PlayStation 2 version came in at No. 2, with 643,000 units, while the PS3 version was No. 4 at 336,000.

“Madden” effect, along with a $50 price cut for the device, helped Microsoft increase Xbox 360 sales 57% from July to 277,000 units. Nintendo’s Wii stayed in first place among the next gen consoles, declining 5% to 404,000. PS3 fell 18% the month after its price cut to 131,000, still in third place but well above pre-price cut sales of around 100,000 per month.

Sony’s eight year-old PlayStation 2 continued to sell healthily, moving 202,000 units in the quarter.

“Madden” versions for other consoles did decently but didn’t hit the top 10. A Wii edition designed to be easier for casual players to understand came in at No. 12, just behind a version for the original Xbox. Portable version for Sony’s PSP was No. 18, while one for Nintendo’s DS didn’t break the top 20.

Month’s other major success was Take Two’s “Bioshock,” the rare original game from a third-party publisher to make the top five. Game, which received nearly unanimous rave reviews, sold 491,000 units for the Xbox 360, making it No. 3 for the month.

Take Two recently stated in an earnings report that “Bioshock” has shipped, though not yet sold, more than 1.5 million units worldwide.

Overall videogame software sales were up 23% at $488 million for the month, though NPD noted that the difference is almost entirely because of higher prices, not more games being sold. So far in 2007, software sales are up 22% at $3.8 billion, and the overall biz, including hardware and accessories, is up 43% at $8 billion.

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