The most widely watched report on holiday video game sales is not due until Thursday, but early hints suggest that it may hold a few surprises.
Sony said Sunday that between the late-November debut of the PlayStation 3 and the end of the year, it had shipped one million of the new consoles to the United States. It said it still expected to ship six million consoles to retailers worldwide by the end of March.
The figure of six million in particular was surprising to analysts in the video game industry who have said that Sony faced challenges in manufacturing enough consoles. They have also questioned whether the price of the PlayStation 3 — $600 for the high-end version — would scare mainstream consumers. Analysts had expected Sony to ship four million to five million consoles.
“It sounds like they really are ramping up production,” said Paul-Jon McNealy, an analyst with American Technology Research. “They’ve gotten their feet underneath them.”
The NPD report will be interesting, but recall that it is only for retail store sales in North America. More projections:
The company expects to sell 13-15 million Xbox 360s by the end of its fiscal year in June, Microsoft spokesman David Hufford said.
Both Sony and Nintendo are projecting selling 6 million consoles by the end of March. Sony expects to start shipping the PS3 to Europe sometime that month as well.