Microsoft claims it “ran out” of Xbox 360s in December

Xbox 360 250GB Console with Kinect

Microsoft’s Larry Hryb—better known to Xbox fans as “Major Nelson”—put out the word yesterday that Microsoft “ran out” of Xbox 360 consoles to sell during December 2010, and the upshot is that Microsoft doesn’t expect to win the month of December in terms of hardware sales. Hryb went on to say that supply for the Xbox 360 console is tight for the beginning of 2011, so the company may not stack up very well in the sales competition going into 2011.

Microsoft was expected to have solid holiday sales figures based in part on the availability of its new Kinect motion-sensing peripheral that enables users to play some games using their whole bodies rather than traditional Xbox controllers. Microsoft claimed to have sold 2.5 million Kinect units by the end of November 2010, which seemed to put the company on track to sell 5 million Kinects for the end-of-year holiday season. However, Kinect sales don’t necessarily translate to Xbox 360 sales: although Microsoft does offer a Kinect + Xbox 360 bundle, many Kinect buyers are existing Xbox 360 owners. However, despite Hryb’s claims, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence—even anecdotal—of retailers running short of Xbox 360 consoles, indicating perhaps any shortage has yet to hit retailers.

The leading industry analysis firm that keeps an eye on the video game industry—NPD—stopped reporting monthly sales figures for game consoles and individual game titles back in October.