Today, the Financial Times reported that the three-way race between the next-generation consoles has a new frontrunner. Citing cumulative sales data through the end of July, the British newspaper's Japanese correspondent is claiming that the Nintendo Wii has now sold more units worldwide than the Xbox 360, despite the latter's year-long head start.
According to the FT, approximately 9 million Wiis were purchased across the globe as of July 31, just barely overtaking the 360's sales of 8.9 million units during the same period. Both platforms were far ahead of the PlayStation 3, which sold only around an estimated 3.7 million units internationally.
If those numbers seem low, it's because they are for consoles that have been sold, not shipped. Typically, hardware makers tout the number of consoles they have shipped into the retail channels, not the number of actual consoles sold. In July, Microsoft announced it had shipped 11.5 million 360s, short of its self-imposed 12-million-unit goal. In May, Sony said it produced 5.5 million PS3s worldwide, though it has since changed its tracking method to account for consoles sold instead of made. Reps for Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony had not responded to requests for comment on the FT piece as of press time.
If accurate, the Wii sales milestone is a watershed for Nintendo. Though it has consistently dominated the handheld market, the 9-million-unit figure would mark the first time since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System era that Nintendo can lay claim to the best-selling console of its generation.
After launching a year behind the PlayStation 2 in 2001, the GameCube slid into third place, falling behind the Xbox, which was launched at nearly the same time. According to Wedbush Morgan Securities estimates, the still-in-production PS2 sold 112 million units internationally as of April 2007. By comparison, the now-discontinued Xbox and GameCube sold 23.1 million and 22.1 million units, respectively. Launched in late 1998, the Sega Dreamcast only sold 8.5 million units worldwide during its short lifetime.
The Mario Factory's previous console, the Nintendo 64, was trounced by the then-upstart original PlayStation, selling an estimated 29.8 million to 85.7 million units through April 2007. The SNES sold 46.5 million units, versus the Sega Genesis' 25.8 million units.