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Analysts: Devil May Cry, Wii To Lead February NPD

Ahead of NPD's February North American hardware and software sales results expected March 13th, Wedbush Morgan and simExchange have posted their predictions, calling for sales up 27 percent to $575 million, with disagreement over whether the PS3 will cont
Ahead of NPD's February North American hardware and software sales results expected March 13th, Wedbush Morgan and simExchange have posted their predictions. Wedbush's Michael Pachter has called for sales up 27 percent to $575 million, but the two disagree over whether the PS3 will continue its sales lead over the Xbox 360. For his part, Pachter posted the following predictions for February hardware results: DS: 350,000 units Wii: 300,000 units PS3: 260,000 units Xbox 360: 250,000 units PS2: 245,000 units PSP: 225,000 units GBA: 1,000 units By comparison, simExchange has posted their own market predictions as follows: Wii: 450,000 units DS: 450,000 units Xbox 360: 285,000 units PS3: 270,000 units PSP: 259,000 units Significantly, simExchange is predicting that January's victory for the PlayStation 3 over the Xbox 360 will be short-lived, with Microsoft's console returning to its dominance, but only by a very slim margin, while Pachter's numbers keep the PS3 on top. Said simExchange analyst Jesse Divnich, "This stalemate between the Xbox 360 and the PS3 is expected to continue well into April with the prediction market expecting the PS3 to outsell the Xbox 360 320,000 units to 315,000 units in March and a reversal in April with the Xbox 360 outselling the PS3 386,000 units to 371,000 units, respectively." Added Pachter, "We believe that PS3 sales will gain momentum over the balance of the year with the victory of the Blu-ray format over HD-DVD. Xbox 360 hardware sales were relatively weaker, with the company stating that it experienced shortages caused by misjudging holiday demand. We expect the Xbox 360 shortage to continue in February, and have forecast relatively flat month-over-month sales." SimExchange has also tracked a number of console and handheld titles for the month, with predictions as follows: Devil May Cry 4 (Xbox 360): 489,000 units Devil May Cry 4 (PS3): 303,000 units Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360): 180,000 units Turok (Xbox 360): 169,000 units Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village (DS): 110,000 units Frontlines: Fuel of War (Xbox 360): 94,000 units Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen (Wii): 70,000 units No More Heroes (Wii): 66,000 units Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS): 62,000 units WipEout Pulse (PSP): 32,000 units Devil May Cry is expected to "dominate" the February release chart, with what simExchange points out is a significantly smaller Xbox 360 to PS3 ratio than multiplatform titles usually show. The 1.61 to 1 ratio is down from Burnout Paradise's 1.73 to 1, and significantly lower than Assassin's Creed's 2.27 to 1 and Call of Duty 4's 3.15 to 1. Divnich points out that it's primarily games with a strong online multiplayer component that favor the Xbox 360, adding that "the first three installments of the Devil May Cry series originated on the PS2, which could indicate that the PS3 install base contains a large number of previous PS2 owners." Said Pachter on the month's software results, "We expect February sales to be driven by Capcom's Devil May Cry 4 (PS3, 360, PC), and to a lesser extent Microsoft's Lost Odyssey (360) and THQ's Frontlines: Fuel of War (360, PC), along with recent top selling releases Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Play, Activision's Call of Duty 4 and Guitar Hero III, and Electronic Arts' Rock Band. We note that there were 14 games that sold over 100,000 units in January, and we expect 14 in February (compared to 10 last year)." He added, "While next generation console unit sales are still lagging behind the analogous period of 2002 (when console prices averaged under $200), recent price cuts, greater handheld hardware sales, and new product introductions (slim PSP and the 40Gb PS3) along with the release of key games (Halo 3 and Guitar Hero III) triggered a spike in hardware sales over the last few months that we believe will continue in 2008." "It appears that supply constraints with the Wii and Xbox 360 allowed the PS3 to catch up in January (273,000 Wiis, 269,000 PS3s, 230,000 360s)," Pachter concluded, "but we expect all three consoles to sell well throughout the year, especially as supply increases."

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