Xbox 360 has a huge lead in online game sales, says NPD

Microsoft’s early lead into online gaming with Xbox Live has proven fruitful during the lifespan of the Xbox 360, according to a new NPD report. Several charts released by the sales-tracking company show that the 360 has held a considerable lead in sales of online playable games and Online game cards since its release in 2006. Though no actual numbers are shown, Microsoft’s console has only widened its lead in recent years.

npd-graph-online-game-sales-2011 npd-graph-online-game-card-sales-2011

Gamasutra reports that retailers have sold almost four times as many Xbox 360 digital points cards than PS3 in 2010 and both systems easily toppled the Wii. However, these numbers don’t take into account the number of digital points gamers buy on the consoles themselves.

In addition, though core gamers are still an important segment of the market, it looks like “digital gamers,” or players that download games mostly through digital distribution, are becoming a large force in the market. According to NPD, they already acquire an average of 5.9 games every three months compared to a Core gamer’s 5.4. They also log 16 hours a week, right behind Core gamers’ 18. Core gamers are about 23 percent of the total market, followed by family and kid gamers at 22 percent and “avid” / PC gamers each occupying 15 percent. Digital gamers, sadly, are still a small fraction of the market. We should also note that a digital game is often much cheaper than a physical game, often by a multiple of 10.

npd-graph-3d-compatible-software-sales-2011Finally, NPD has a few graphs showing a big expansion–and fast trail-off–of motion-controlled game sales beginning last year when the PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect were released. Sony’s other big initiative–3D games–had a similar bump and fall as demand peaked at 25 percent of total game sales in November and leveled off to somewhere between 10 and 15 percent through April 2011.

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