Nintendo Celebrates Wii Sales as Console Ages

Nintendo (NTDOY) threw a PR party of sorts as sales of its Wii game console passed the 30-million-unit mark in the U.S. The Japanese company said it hit the "milestone" in 45 months, 15 months faster than any of its rivals.

"More than any other video game system in history, Wii has expanded the world of video games to new audiences," said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing. "This milestone is another reminder that people want fun games they can play with others -- all at a value-minded price," the company said in a statement for the press, which was widely picked up by gaming sites and the general media. It was, in the judgment of many editors, an important piece of news.

Nintendo went on to say that it will launch a number of games in the next several months that will continue to help Wii sales, includingMetroid: Other M, Samurai Warriors 3, and Wii Party this fall, as well as Donkey Kong Country Returns and PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure in time for the the holidays.

But is there really so much to celebrate? Research firm NPD reported that Wii sales were lower than sales of Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 in June. Wii sales for the month were 422,500, while Xbox 360 sales were 451,700. Sales of the Microsoft console rose 88% from June 2009. PS3 sales were up 85% from the same month last year to 304,800. NPD analyst Anita Frazier commented that "The Xbox 360 experienced its second largest non-holiday month after September '07 when Halo 3 launched, and the PS3 has now garnered 11 consecutive months of year-over-year unit sales increases."

The Wii may simply be aging as its two rivals add features like streaming media, Blu-ray and software that mimics Wii functionality. The fast pace Nintendo hit to get to 30 million Wii sales is slowing rapidly.
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