December was in many ways a record-setting month for the game industry, which saw more revenue than ever before. But as the last-place finisher among the next-gen platforms, PlayStation 3 faces the steepest challenge in making good news out of the numbers.
Among the six current home and handheld gaming platforms, PS3 came in fifth with only 726,005 units sold, and among its rivals, PS2 was the only other console to fail to break one million units in the month.
The company points to growth percentages and "momentum" rather than strict numbers, Sony notes the PS3 sold 92 percent more units in December than in November, and the platform's growth of 40 percent in 2008 as a whole brings it to a userbase of 3.6 million by the end of the year.
Although it sees only one title, Call of Duty: World At War
in the monthly top 10 in the ninth spot, Sony also calls December one of the PS3's "strongest months" in U.S. software sales, with a total of 6 million units sold -- marking a 116 percent increase in software unit sales over the calendar year.
The console's top-selling games in December were LittleBigPlanet, Resistance 2, CoD:WaW, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
and Prince of Persia
, Sony says, although it didn't provide unit sales for its first-party titles. As CoD:WaW
's PS3 SKU makes the month's top 10, NPD data pegs its unit sales at 533,000.
Sony says it's now up to 17 million PlayStation Network users worldwide, who have collectively downloaded 330 million pieces of content to date. The top three PSN games in December were Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer
and, perhaps surprisingly, interactive art piece Linger in Shadows
As for PSP, its one million hardware units sold represent a 143 percent increase from November to December. PSP software sold 3.7 million units in December, and 2008's two most popular PSP games were platform exclusives Crisis Core
and God of War: Chains of Olympus
-- together, they sold 1,313,893 units during the year.
Just recently celebrating its 50 millionth lifetime unit sold, the PlayStation 2 is still seeing "solid sales," Sony says. NPD numbers put PS2 sales at 410,000 units in December, which Sony calls a 99 percent month-to-month increase accompanied by a 124 percent boost in software sales.
The Guitar Hero
franchise, which continues to motivate PS2 purchases for consumers seeking a lower-cost way to own the popular franchise, sold over 3 million units on the PS2 in 2008, Sony says.
As a whole, the PlayStation business generated $2.5 billion in hardware revenues for 2008, and $3.2 billion in software revenues.
"The PlayStation brand has had a solid calendar year with total PS3 hardware sales up 40 percent and total PS3 software sales up 115 percent," says marketing and PlayStation Network senior VP Peter Dille. "We remain confident in our momentum into 2009 as we continue to deliver to our consumers the best entertainment content and technology out there.
"We also hit a remarkable milestone for the PlayStation 2 platform in North America with 50 million units sold. It's truly an amazing testament to the power and legacy of our brand."