PS3 expected to overtake the 360

Although Nintendo is sitting on the top of the console sales heap, perched high on the shoulders of the Wii’s 76 million units sold, the battle for second place is still hotly contested. Currently, the Xbox 360 has a firm grasp on the number 2 spot with 45.2 million units sold worldwide, and that number is expected to increase this holiday thanks to the success of the Kinect– which sold over 1 million units in 10 days. Projections have Microsoft selling 5 million Kinect units in total this holiday season, many of which will be part of a bundle, so the 360 is expected to do well this quarter. But nipping on the 360’s heels is the PlayStation 3, which has sold 41.2 million units worldwide. It is a tight battle, but as anyone that follows electronic sales can tell you, it is a marathon, not a sprint–and it appears that Sony might be making its move.

According to the analyst group DFC Intelligence, the PS3 will surpass the Xbox 360 in consoles sold worldwide, sometime in 2011. The Xbox 360 has been exceeding projections in consoles sold, and despite slumping software figures, hardware sales for Microsoft have been well ahead of projections. The above average sales numbers should continue through the holiday season, but that trend is likely to end shortly after.

Although the sales of the 360 console have been very strong following the redesign of the console, the software sales have not been rising to match. This suggests that many of the new systems sold are either replacement units, or are part of multiple consoles in the same house. And while the 360 may have fan base that is loyal—or has become too invested to not replace a dead console—the PS3 seems to be attracting new fans at a steady pace. The PS3 still trails the 360, but it was released almost an entire year after and the sales numbers continue to improve year to year.

Sony also has a huge advantage over Microsoft in the Japanese market. Nintendo dominates overseas as well as in Europe and the Americas, but while the PS3 has sold nearly 6 million units in Japan, a number that is expected to increase this holiday thanks to lower prices, Microsoft has never really been able to make an impact with the original Xbox or the Xbox 360. Current figures show a mere 1.4 million 360s sold in Japan, and while that number might increase thanks to the Kinect, Microsoft is not gaining much ground. By comparison, the 360 has sold 25.9 million in the Americas, while the PS3 has moved 16.1 million. The PS3 has a very slight edge in Europe though, with 19.4 million; the 360 has sold 17.8 million, and could narrow that gap this holiday season.

While the PlayStation Move might not have had the impact Sony was hoping, DFC is suggesting that a huge plate of exclusive titles could further boost the PS3’s sales in 2011. Games like Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, and SOCOM 4 are all due out as PS3 exclusives in the next year.  With the PS3 finally turning a profit on each console sold, it has been able to lower the price of the system.

Of course, these are all just projections, and anything can happen, but it could be the year of the PS3.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: