Microsoft this week revealed that its Xbox 360 video game console outsold its Sony PlayStation 3 rival 3-to-1 on "Black Friday," which curiously describes the three day weekend after Thanksgiving, a period that unofficially kicks off the holiday selling season. The software giant notes that it's 2008 Black Friday sales were also 25 higher than the same period a year ago.
"We entered into the Black Friday sales period with cautious optimism, knowing that dollar for dollar, Xbox 360 offers more social entertainment value than any other console on the market," says Microsoft senior vice president Don Mattrick. "Record Black Friday sales in the US, coupled with our existing global install base of 25 million and an online community of more than 14 million Xbox LIVE members, have laid the groundwork for continued global sales momentum in 2009."
What Microsoft isn't mentioning, of course, is that its Xbox 360 console has continued to struggle in the wake of the overwhelming success of market leader Nintendo Wii, which at some points this year has sold as many units as the Xbox 360 and PS3 combined. To address this issue, Microsoft has worked this year to copy Nintendo's strategy by introducing a variety of casual games and other non-gaming entertainment options. It also recently revamped the Xbox 360 dashboard software to incorporate cartoonish avatar characters that look very much like the "Mii" characters that Wii owners create.
Microsoft is also touting the benefits of console-based gaming and entertainment during the current economic recession. The company recently released the results of a survey of US-based game players that suggests that many will be staying home over the holidays. Thus, Microsoft says, it is uniquely positioned to capitalize on consumers that wish to spend time at home, perhaps gathered around the family TV, playing a video game.
"Many families will spend their holiday season in the living room, looking for ways to be entertained economically," a Microsoft statement reads. "With more than 200 E- and T-rated games for the family and the ability to watch TV shows, stream Netflix movies and more, Xbox 360 delivers something for every member of your family."
That's especially true when the Nintendo Wii is still sold out at the local Best Buy.