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Wii tops box competition

Nintendo console outsells Playstation 3, Xbox

The Wii is taking a big lead in 2007.

Nintendo’s next-gen console sold 435,000 units last month in the U.S., according to data from industry analyst NPD group.

Sony’s higher-priced and higher-powered PlayStation 3, which debuted the same week in November as the Wii, lagged well behind with 244,000. Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which launched in November 2005 and competes more directly with the PS3 for core young male gamers, sold 294,000.

Sony’s PlayStation 2, the only “last gen” console still on the market, was in the mix with a healthy 299,000 units sold.

Though it remains to be seen whether Nintendo’s lead will last beyond the initial burst of uniformly positive publicity that’s driving sales, it’s unusual for one console to establish a dominant position so soon after launch.

That’s particularly good news for the Japanese vidgame company after the poor performance of its last console, the GameCube. Nintendo took a big risk by not matching the graphical power of the Xbox 360 and PS3 with the Wii, which has a lower price point and remote controller that’s easier for nongamers to use.

Microsoft’s console took the lead in game sales last month, according to NPD, as Capcom’s “Lost Planet,” a 360 exclusive, was the top-selling game with more than 400,000 units. Other games in the top five were, in order, Activision’s “Guitar Hero 2,” Microsoft’s “Gears of War” and Nintendo’s “WarioWare” and “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.”

According to a research note by Wedbush Morgan Securities, game sales were up a very healthy 22% from last year, adjusting for the fact that January had five weeks.

Since debuting, the 360 has sold 4.8 million units in the U.S., the Wii 1.5 million and the PS3 933,000.

While Sony was hampered by small shipments late last year, most stores now have PS3s available for sale. Third-place position is a blow for the electronics conglom, as the PS2 sold more than the original Xbox and GameCube combined. Sony has to hope that upcoming games will be a big boost to the PS3, thus justify the billions it has invested in research and marketing.

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