Black Friday sprint begins for video game industry

December 1, 2009

Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.

As a brutal 2009 winds to a close, the gaming industry is hoping that a strong six weeks of sales in the United States, the largest market, could help them salvage something from the year.

Nintendo said Monday its Wii home console — the long-time U.S. champ that has been struggling lately — sold more than 550,000 units in the U.S. during Thanksgiving week. To put that in perspective, the company sold around 500,000 Wiis in all of October, according to industry tracker NPD.

Not to be outdone, Sony announced Tuesday that demand for its PlayStation 3 console over the Thanksgiving week “was at an all time high.” The company said it sold 440,000 units for the week in the U.S.

Both Nintendo and Sony have recently slashed prices on their consoles, as has Microsoft with its Xbox 360. The PS3, which is more popular with hard-core gamers, has seen plenty of momentum since the price cut. At the same time, Nintendo has set up holiday kiosks in malls across the country to give consumers the opportunity to play its casual and family-friendly games.

A more complete picture on who turned in the best Black Friday performance will come later this month, when NPD releases its November sales data.

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