Nintendo Wii's Sales Leave Rest of Game-Console Pack in Dust

Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s Wii was the best-selling video game console in the United States in January, and the Japanese company also boasted four of the top 10 games, data released on Wednesday showed.

U.S. shoppers snapped up 436,000 Wii units in January, according to figures from market research firm NPD. The console debuted in November for $250 and features a motion-sensing controller that has helped build buzz for the machine.

The second-best-selling console was Sony Corp.'s (SNE) 7-year-old PlayStation 2, which moved 299,000 units and outsold Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's newer but more expensive PlayStation 3, the data showed.

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Xbox 360 sales were 294,000 while those for the PS3 were 244,000. High-end versions of those machines retail for $400 and $600, respectively.

"Following seasonally stronger sales in December, unit sales remained solid in January across most hardware platforms," Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a research note.

In December, the biggest month for video game sales due to the holiday shopping season, Microsoft sold 1.1 million Xbox units, while Nintendo sold 604,000 Wii consoles and Sony sold 490,700 PS3s.

NPD receives data representing about two-thirds of U.S. retail sales and makes projections for the remainder of the market based on a sampling of consumers.

The figures do not include those from Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, or "mom and pop" stores.

Total sales of video game hardware and software hit $1.3 billion in January, with game sales jumping more than 50 percent to $549 million, though NPD added that was somewhat inflated due to its January 2007 data covering 5 weeks instead of the 4 weeks in its January 2006 report.

"We believe the fundamental underpinnings for healthy (more than) 15 percent industry growth in 2007 remain intact," Sebastian wrote.

U.S. game sales charts were topped by "Lost Planet: Extreme Condition," a game from Japanese publisher Capcom in which players fight aliens across an icy world. The game sold 329,000 copies.

"Lost Planet" was one of three games for the Xbox 360 that made the top 10, the other two being Microsoft's "Gears of War" at No. 3 and French publisher Ubisoft's "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas" at No. 9.

Nintendo had four games in the top 10: two for the Wii, one for its DS handheld and one for its last-generation console, the Gamecube.

The PS3 had one game, "Resistance: Fall of Man," at No. 8, and the PlayStation 2 placed two titles, a guitar simulator and a football game, at No. 3 and No. 6.

NPD did not provide further details about unit shipments or dollar sales of the top January games.

A list of January's top games follows.

1. "Lost Planet: Extreme Condition" for the Xbox 360, published by Capcom

2. "Guitar Hero 2" for the PlayStation 2, published by Activision (ATVI)

3. "Gears of War" for the Xbox 360, published by Microsoft

4. "WarioWare: Smooth Moves" for the Wii published, by Nintendo

5. "Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for the Wii, published by Nintendo

6. "Madden NFL 07" for the PlayStation 2, published by Electronic Arts (ERTS)

7. "Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for the Nintendo Gamecube, published by Nintendo

8. "Resistance: Fall of Man" for the PlayStation 3, published by Sony

9. "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas" for the Xbox 360, published by Ubisoft

10. "New Super Mario Brothers" for the Nintendo DS, published by Nintendo