/// Videogame Consoles Still Selling Like Hotcakes, But How Much Life Is Left in the Aging Hardware?
Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Wii sold in record numbers last week as Americans kicked off their holiday shopping. Experts Give the New Xbox Raves for Control, Creativity (Dec. 6 2001) Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images Microsoft sold more than 960,000 consoles last week, with a majority flying off the shelves within a single 24-hour period. Nintendo also said the Wii had the biggest Black Friday ever, selling more than 500,000 units on Black Friday , which falls the day after Thanksgiving. At one point during the shopping madness, a shopper pepper-sprayed a crowd at a Wal-Mart to get her mitts on an Xbox (although reports now say police are investigating the incident to determine the cause of the attack). Sony declined to release sales figures for the PlayStation 3 last week, but it is likely benefiting from a recent $50 price cut. Such strong sales are mind-blowing. People are lining up for — and in some cases fighting over — hardware that is five to six years old. It’s difficult to imagine any other consumer hardware that could attract that kind of demand after such a long period of time. All three are nearing the end of their life cycles. The Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 are both five years old, and the Xbox 360 is a year older. Nintendo is the first to announce that it will release a new console, the Wii U, later next year. Microsoft and Sony have not said anything official, but they are both expected to follow with competing launches in the same time frame. It has always been a pattern for all three rivals to release new hardware at the same time. A European PlayStation executive recently hinted that Sony’s plan was to continue that trend because it was “undesirable” to be significantly later than the competition, according to IndustryGamers.com . Despite the odds, there are at least three reasons why sales continue to do well. The lineup of games is as strong as it has ever been for the consoles; all three have tried sprucing up the hardware with accessories and adding downloadable content; and, finally, consumers don’t have a choice — the only alternative is to wait another year. First, the games: This year, publishers waited until now to release some of the hottest titles of 2011; hardcore gamers in particular will have their choice of any number of blockbuster hits
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