Analyst: PlayStation 3 surpasses Xbox 360 in global sales race

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During the halcyon days of gaming, two home console manufacturers – Nintendo and Sega – vied for consumer attention. The former by boasting its Super NES’ graphical prowess, and the latter with cutting jabs at its rival with the catchphrase, “Sega does what Nintendon’t.” OK, in hindsight it really wasn’t that cutting.

Today, it’s a three-way engagement (that Sega isn’t a part of it) between the PS3, Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii. While Nintendo’s unique console has led its competitors’ offerings for years, new reports suggest that the market leader is losing ground as Sony’s game console and Blu-ray player, the PS3, picks up the slack.

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Analyst: PlayStation 3 surpasses Xbox 360 in global sales race

Research firm Strategy Analytics published a report this week claiming the PlayStation 3 surpassed the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales at the end of 2010, though both still lag far behind the Nintendo Wii. From the press release:

Sony’s PS3 games console passed Microsoft’s Xbox 360 to become the number two TV console worldwide by the end of 2010, according to the latest research published by Strategy Analytics’ Connected Home Devices service. According to the report, “Global TV Games Console Forecast: Will New Sensor Technology Revive the Demand?”, the active installed base of PS3s reached 43.4 million by the end of 2010, compared to 42.9 million Xbox 360s. Nintendo’s Wii remained the number one global TV console with 75.5 million active devices.

Furthermore, the researcher believes the Wii, though currently enjoying a healthy lead in the game hardware sector, will see a successor hit the marketplace “in the next 12 months.” The innovative console will struggle to push past 10 million units sold this year says the firm, while both its rival platforms are set to enjoy rising sales.

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Earlier sales reports from this year support the notion that the Wii may be in the twilight of its life. Sales for the system were down year-over-year this past January, even as it handily outsold the PS3 and Xbox 360.

However, one bright spot remains for Nintendo: the 3DS. According to the company,the new handheld broke previous day-one sales records set by previous portable systems in the U.S. The 3DS’ European launch went similarly well, selling around 113,000 units over the weekend — higher than previous debuts by the Wii and DSi.

It’s too early to tell if Strategy Analytics‘ predictions will prove accurate, or if Nintendo will combat insiders’ worries with new system-moving software for the Wii in 2011. So far, the Japan-based company has at least one big trick up its sleeve for this year: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

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