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Nintendo Wii game console was the was the most successful game machine in the U.S. in January, 2007, whereas sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 collapsed dramatically from December.

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 could not sustain the lead in the U.S. market in January as sales of the console dropped nearly four times from December. Meanwhile consumers were still very enthusiastic about Nintendo’s Wii, which was the best-selling new-generation console in the first month of the year. Sales of Sony’s PlayStation 3 dropped two times, making the PS3 the worst-selling new-generation game console in the U.S. in January.

According to preliminary figures from NPD Group, Nintendo sold 436 thousand of Wii game consoles in January (down from 604 thousand in December), Microsoft sold 294 thousand of its Xbox 360 machines (down from 1.132 million in December), whereas Sony’s PlayStation 3 was close to that, but still behind, with 244 thousand of units acquired by customers.

“I do think that we’re selling to additional and different customers, compared with the Microsoft and Sony consoles. We've had an incredibly healthy start and we think there's going to be a pretty long tail on this product,” said Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing for Nintendo.

“Xbox 360 had a fantastic January, and we feel great about our position in the marketplace,” said Molly O’Donnell, a spokeswoman for Microsoft Xbox group, adding that sales of Xbox 360 in January, 2007, were 18% higher year-over-year.

Considering that Sony sells its PlayStation 3 game consoles at $499 or even $599 depending on configuration, while the Xbox 360 is priced at $299 or $399 and Wii is sold for $249, it is hardly surprising that the PS3 receives relatively tepid welcome. Despite of that, slow sales of the PS3 may force game developers to focus more on the Xbox 360 and Wii, which may slowdown sales of PS3 going forward due to the lower amount of games available.

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