Nintendo is sitting firmly at the top of the games console tree right now, having just been 'bigged up' by the release of the US sales figures for October which show the Wii on 803,000 and the DS on 491,000. Both well ahead of nearest rival, the Xbox 360 on 371,000. The old, original, Xbox quite unsurprisingly does not feature in the top six list. That said, the PlayStation 2 does, at the bottom, on 136,000. So why mention the Xbox at all then?
Simply because the Xbox 360 has yet to manage to sell more units than the original Xbox overall, since release.
Now that is a surprising fact, surely? This is predicted to change by the end of the month. According to Mindy Mount, corporate VP and CFO of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division "we expect our global installed base to reach 25 million units, surpassing that of the first Xbox."
With Christmas fast approaching, and Xbox 360 prices free falling, it stands to reason that sales will start rising. Trouble is, while the Xbox 360 is performing really well compared to the much more expensive PlayStation 3 by selling twice as many units at the moment, the same cannot be said of it's performance against the Wii where it trails by pretty much the same margin.
Only the most brazen of die-hard retro gamers, or those on a real tight budget, would champion the Xbox over the far superior Xbox 360. Despite the ongoing Red Rings of Death problems, despite the fall of HD-DVD and lack of Blu-Ray, the Xbox 360 continues to kick PlayStation 3 ass where it matters: gameplay. From the titles themselves, through to the whole Xbox LIVE experience, the downloadable content and the gaming community it seems to have it all.
So why does it continue to trail the Wii by such a margin? Same reason, gameplay. Sure, the Wii might not have all the bells and whistles, controllers apart, but it does have gameplay in spades. What's more, it has that gameplay concentrated in one specific area: the family. Games that everyone can play, from the youngest kids through to Grandma, are key to the Wii success. On the evidence of Xbox 360 family titles over the last year, I am not convinced that Microsoft has an answer to the current Nintendo market domination.
Which leads me to conclude that while the Xbox 360 will undoubtedly deliver a knockout blow to the Xbox within the course of the next few months, it will ultimately lose on points to the seemingly lightweight Wii overall.