Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is a sales juggernaut in the U.S. In fact, according to the latest data from NPD, the Xbox 360 led all consoles in sales for 24 months in a row. The console even was able to beat out the Nintendo Wii U in December – a surprising feat considering that console just went on sale in November and the Xbox 360 has been available for seven years.
The Xbox 360’s staying power in the U.S. is nothing short of astounding. In December, alone, Microsoft sold 1.4 million consoles in the U.S., indicating gamers see no reason to hold off on buying the device until the Xbox 720 launches later this year. Better yet for Microsoft, many of those folks sign up for Xbox Live, providing the software giant with a steady stream of revenue over the course of its lifecycle.
All of that success, however, has me thinking: why is the Xbox 360 – a console that, at launch, some thought would be trounced by the PlayStation 3 – so popular in the U.S.?
Perhaps the first reason is its core market. Microsoft isn’t trying to take on Nintendo’s more casual gamers. Instead, Microsoft has found a loyal following in the hardcore segment, where gamers like to play online, pick up shooters, and play for hours. To those gamers, the Xbox 360 is a device worthy of its success.
According to NPD, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was the most popular game in the industry last year. And for the fourth year in a row, the Xbox 360 version was the most popular option among U.S.-based consumers. That’s perhaps as much a testament to the console as it is its robust online-gaming service that delivers the features today’s customers want far more effectively than on competing consoles.
Speaking of competing consoles, is it possible that they’re causing the Xbox 360 to be so popular? Granted, the PlayStation 3 has sold more units worldwide than the Xbox 360, but let’s not forget that that is due mainly to Sony’s international success. In the U.S., the Xbox 360 is still the dominant force.
Perhaps that’s due to Sony’s sluggish online services. Although they’ve been around for years, Sony’s online services haven’t really caught on until recently. Plus, with the hacking scandal that rocked the platform, gamers became a bit more wary of the PlayStation Network.
The Wii and Wii U might also be pushing gamers to Microsoft. As mentioned, those consoles cater to a casual sector of the market – one that Microsoft doesn’t really care about. At the same time, hardcore gamers who have played the Wii and Wii U and try to stick with it have trouble. Like it or not, the consoles just aren’t capable of keeping their attention as much as the Xbox.
Finally, I think we should point to the Xbox 360’s strong library. For years now, it has offered just about every major franchise, and exclusives like Halo have kept customers coming back. Hardware might get all of the attention in the marketplace, but it’s software that drives customers to buy the consoles. And on that front, Microsoft is winning handily.
Of course, the Xbox 360’s success might be due to several other factors. Why do you think Microsoft’s console is so popular today?