Sony's next gen console still in last place

Sony’s PlayStation 3 drew a big boost from its price drop in July, but it’s still lagging in last place.

The next gen console, which saw its high price cut by $100 cut in response to broad consumer resistance, saw sales grow 63% from the previous month to 159,000 units in the U.S. and Canada, according to the NPD Group.

That put it just slightly behind Microsoft’s Xbox 360, whose sales declined from 198,000 to 170,000.

Nintendo’s Wii, meanwhile, continues to dominate. In an overall slow month for the vidgame biz and with no prominent new games released for it, Wii sales grew 11% to 425,000.

The torpor of July was particularly apparent in game sales, where only one new title, EA’s “NCAA Football ’08,” made a big mark, claiming top 10 slots for its 360, PS2 and PS3 versions. Activision’s adaptation of “Transformers” for the PS2 came in at No. 9, and other games in the top 10 were all holdovers.

Overall industry revenue still grew substantially from July 2006, however, with game sales up 22.4% at $419 million and console sales up 72% at $381 million.

The Xbox 360 will likely extend its lead over PS3 this month thanks to a price cut of its own and widespread reviews saying EA’s “Madden NFL ’08,” which is certain to be August’s bestselling game, plays better on the 360 than the PS3. And Microsoft is sure to completely dominate in September and October following the release of 360 exclusive “Halo 3.”

As it hopes to gain momentum for PS3 later in the year on a large but lower-profile array of exclusive games for the PS3, Sony is still riding the strong performance of the PlayStation 2, which sold a solid 222,000 units in July.

Among handheld devices, Nintendo’s DS continues to dominate, selling 405,000 units in July compared to 214,000 for Sony’s PSP.

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