Last weekend's kickoff to the holiday shopping season surpassed expectations: US consumers spent 3 percent more than last year despite the weak economy. The first evidence that the game industry fared even better arrived today, as Microsoft touted a record Black Friday performance from the Xbox 360.
According to the company, early US Xbox 360 system sales for the weekend were "on pace" to beat last year's total by 25 percent. Given the 310,000 Xbox 360s sold during Thanksgiving week last year, that could put last week's number of systems sold closer to 388,000. For the entire month of October, the NPD Group reported that 371,000 Xbox 360s were sold by US retailers.
Citing retailer reports, Microsoft also said that the Xbox 360 outsold the PlayStation 3 by a three-to-one margin. Last year that ratio (also based on retailer estimates) was two-to-one.
For most of the year, the 360 and the PS3 have been finishing neck and neck in US sales, although Sony's console won a big victory in June. However, the Xbox 360 has been pulling away from Sony's system since September, thanks to price cuts that put the hard-drive-less 360 Arcade at $199--making it the cheapest current-generation console on the market. Despite that, hardware sales for Nintendo's Wii remain well in front of either of its console competitors.