SAN FRANCISCO - Sony's ( SNE) latest PlayStation 3 console has stretched its lead over rival Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox 360 last month, though it still lags behind Nintendo's Wii system, according to industry research firm The NPD Group. Sony sold 405,500 PS3s, compared to 219,800 Xbox 360s but still has a long way to go before it catches up with the Wii, which sold 666,700 systems last month. It's the second month that the PS3 has stayed ahead of the Xbox 360. Sony still has a long way to go before it beats Nintendo. The Nintendo Wii has now become the best-selling console among its peers, with 10.9 million units sold year-to-date in the U.S. Sony stumbled when it launched the expensive PS3 console a year-and-a-half ago and trailed its competitors for months. That's in contrast to its position as the clear market leader with the older PlayStation 2 console. Sony is making concerted efforts to regain its footing. Earlier this week, it shaved $100 off the price of the PS3. Sony said the 80-gigabyte version of the PS3 will retail at $400, down from $500, while discontinuing the 40-GB version of the console. Microsoft also dropped $50 off the price of the Xbox 360 and said the basic 20-GB model of the console will retail at $299. Sales of PlayStation 3 were helped by Konami's ( KNM) latest release, Metal Gear Solid 4: Gun of The Patriots for the PS3, which zoomed to the top of the charts with nearly 775,000 copies sold last month. Konami's game was made exclusively available on the PS3.
"Platform-exclusive content usually fuels hardware system purchases and PS3 sales certainly reflect the impact of Metal Gear Solid 4," said Anita Frazier, analyst with The NPD Group in a statement. "PS3 unit sales were the highest of any month outside of that recorded during previous November and December holiday timeframes." Overall, the video games industry, including hardware, software and accessories, grew 53% in June to $1.69 billion, compared to the same month a year ago. Hardware sales were up 54% last month to $615.1million from the year before, while software sales grew 64% to $872.6 million during the month. Activision's ( ATVID) game Guitar Hero On Tour for Nintendo's DS took second (422,300 copies) while Ninja Garden II from Microsoft ranked third on the charts. Electronic Arts ( ERTS)> found itself placed sixth with its game Battlefield: Bad Company, while the last three of the top 10 spots went to Lucas Arts' Indiana Jones title. Nintendo's Wii Play game stayed strong at the fifth spot while the Wii Fit with Balance Board was a rung ahead. Sales of video game accessories were up 25% in June to $202 million. "The video games industry continues to perform in the face of an ever-increasingly difficult economic environment as many turn to more in-home entertainment," said Frazier. "Even if growth slows over the back half of 2008, the industry is poised to achieve record-breaking revenues of over $22 billion for the year," she said.