What we heard: There's a certain segment of the gaming culture that loves nothing more than to dig into sales figures, and few sales figures have been speculated on as much as the holiday hardware sales now that all three next-generation consoles have arrived on the market. While the industry-tracking NPD group announced its hardware tallies for the Wii and PlayStation 3's debut month of November, December was the first full month the consoles went head-to-head on shelves.
So when a GamesIndustry.biz article surfaced offering preliminary NPD hardware figures from November through Christmas, people took note. The Xbox 360 reportedly won the holiday hardware race with 2 million sold, with the Wii moving 1.8 million units, and the PS3 a distant third with 750,000 systems sold.
However, the trade site was attributing the numbers to a video on CNBC.com that first aired December 29 and which can't be viewed unless visitors register an account and give up a credit card number to view the segment. If one actually jumps through the site's hoops and watches the video in question, it can easily be determined that those numbers aren't coming from NPD.
The segment is an interview with Billy Pidgeon, an analyst with IT market intelligence firm IDC. In it, a graphic appears on screen showing estimated console sales in North America for November through December 25, 2006. The numbers match up with the figures being attributed to the NPD, but CNBC attributes IDC as its source on them.
The confusion likely comes from a blurb of text that appears at the bottom of the screen shortly after the graphic is taken down. It notes that the "NDP Group" (sic) pegged the Wii as selling more than twice the number of PS3s for the month of November, which is true, but also something that was announced last month.
However, IDC's projections might be fairly close to the final numbers. While NPD hasn't publicly announced any preliminary numbers for December hardware sales, Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter mentioned some figures this morning in a note to investors regarding Electronic Arts. Pachter referenced an "early assessment" by the NPD "suggesting" December Wii sales of 1.3 million systems and Xbox 360 sales of 1.5 million units. Combine that with the already announced November sales figures for those systems and you wind up with almost 1.78 million Wii systems and just over 2 million Xbox 360s sold for the holiday season, essentially the same numbers estimated by IDC.
While the IDC estimates may in fact turn out to be very much in line with NPD's final figures (expected to be released next week), the CNBC report clearly attributed IDC as the source of the numbers.
The official story: An NPD representative had not returned a request for comment as of press time, but Pidgeon confirmed for GameSpot that the figures were his firm's, and that IDC and NPD don't share forecasts or figures with one another.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that those numbers came from NPD, but they might turn out to be accurate anyway.