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Originally published December 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 12, 2008 at 9:55 AM

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Nintendo sells 2 million Wii consoles in November

The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond, sold 2 million Wii video-game consoles in the U.S., double what it did in November last year and more than the combined sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 — for the ninth month straight.

Seattle Times technology reporter

Nintendo's bright, shiny objects glowed against the dismal economy in November, leading the entire video-game industry in bucking retail's downward trend.

The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond, sold 2 million Wii video-game consoles in the U.S., double what it did in November last year and more than the combined sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 — for the ninth month straight.

The less-talked about portable Nintendo DS sold 1.6 million units.

Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo's executive vice president of sales and marketing, attributes the success — which represents the most game-console sales in any month outside of December — to basically the same formula the company has followed since the Wii was launched two years ago: Inexpensive, approachable fun for the whole family.

The Wii's motion-sensing controller, balance board and relatively simple games have broadened the audience beyond the stereotypical young, male gamers. The Wii retails for $250.

Also, Nintendo increased the supply to U.S. retailers, which ran short of Wii consoles last year.

"We made a commitment to consumers that we would put 50 percent more product on the shelves than we did last year," Dunaway said.

While Nintendo's sales growth was jaw-dropping, Microsoft also had a significant sales uptick from last November, according to NPD Group figures released Thursday.

The company sold 836,000 Xbox 360 consoles, up 8.6 percent from a year earlier, and claimed the top-selling game for the month: "Gears of War 2," which sold 1.6 million units.

Anita Frazier, analyst with NPD Group, noted that the industry as a whole had revenue growth of 10 percent last month versus November 2007. Meanwhile, retailers in general have been reporting November sales that were flat or down from last year.

"(A) video game is a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment for the hours of value it provides," she said in an e-mail. It's "the category consumers are least likely to cut back on this holiday."

Sony's PlayStation 3 was the only current-generation console to see its sales decrease in November, down 18.9 percent. The PS3 is also the most expensive console on the market.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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