Video-game publisher Activision ( ATVI) soared to the top of November's holiday sales charts with two bestselling titles. By contrast, its rival Electronic Arts ( ERTS) failed to find a spot among the top 10 games sold during the month. Activision's latest release, Call of Duty 4, blazed through the month to become the No. 1 title in early holiday shopping. Call of Duty 4, which runs on Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox 360 console, sold approximately 1.57 million copies last month and put Activision at the top of the pack. "Gamers answered the call, propelling Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on the 360 platform to the top spot for the month in software unit sales. With only one month of retail sales, it is already the four best-selling title in video game sales year-to-date, behind Halo 3 (from Microsoft), Wii Play and Pokemon Diamond (from Nintendo)," said Anita Frazier, an analyst with the NPD group, in a statement. Call of Duty 4's coup comes on the heels of the sucess of Activision's Guitar Hero III. In October, Guitar Hero III topped the charts, selling more than 1.4 million copies within a week of its release. The game, which runs on Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation 2 platform, didn't slow down last month, either. Guitar Hero III came in fourth on the charts with 967,000 copies, while the version for Nintendo's Wii took the No. 8 spot with 426,000 copies.
"Guitar Hero III continued to rock the house, selling 1.9 million copies across all platforms during November," said Frazier. "On a year-to-date basis the title has sold 3.3 million copies in the U.S., and Guitar Hero 2 is right behind it at 3.1 million copies." Electronic Arts' latest game, Rock Band, seen as the rival to Activision's Guitar Hero franchise, sold 382,000 copies on the 360 and PS3 platforms. Game publisher Ubisoft was another winner during early holiday sales. Its latest release, Assassin's Creed for the Xbox 360 console, ranked third, selling 980,000 copies, while the PS3 version came in tenth, moving 377,000 copies. " Assassin's Creed has earned a spot in the history books as the best-selling new game at launch, besting the previous record held by (Microsoft's) Gears of War," said Frazier. Microsoft's Halo 3 blockbuster title slowed down, selling just about 387,000 copies for the No. 9 spot. Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii came in second with 1.12 million copies sold, while Wii Play grabbed the fifth spot, selling 564,000 copies. On the hardware side, though, Nintendo continued to beat its competitors by a wide margin, selling twice as many Wiis as Sony's sold PS3s. Nintendo sold 981,000 consoles last month, compared with 519,000 in October, said NPD.
Microsoft's Xbox 360, seen as the challenger to Sony and Nintendo, sold 770,000 boxes, compared with 366,000 in October. But PS3 sales of picked up during the holiday season, as Sony sold 466,000 consoles in November compared with 121,000 a month earlier. "The combination of the price cut and seasonal lift gave the PS3 the biggest October-to-November sales increase of any hardware platform," said Frazier. Still, the older PS2 console found more buyers than its successor. Nearly 496,000 PS2s were sold last month, compared with 184,000 in October. Sony also lagged behind Nintendo in handheld game systems. Sony sold 567,000 PlayStation Portables in November, up from 286,000 in October, while rival Nintendo's version, the DS, sold 1.53 million systems in November compared with 458,000 a month earlier. Sales of video game accessories reached $243 million last month, up 52% from a year ago. Overall industry sales, including hardware, software and accessories, reached $2.63 billion in November, up 52% compared with year-ago figures. Since the beginning of the year, the video-games industry has raked in $13.12 billion, vs. $8.76 billion for the same period in 2006. Software sales for consoles jumped 75% to $1.1 billion in November, from $617 million during the same month a year ago.