Microsoft on Tuesday announced that sales of its Xbox 360 video game console hit 28 million units by the end of 2008, a year that the company described as the console's "biggest ever." Microsoft also made the dubious claim that it has "expanded the product's lead" over rival Sony PlayStation 3, all while ignoring market leader Nintendo Wii, which has a wide and unassailable lead over the other two consoles.

"2008 will be remembered around the world as a pivotal growth year for Xbox at retail and online, even in the face of tough economic conditions," said Microsoft senior vice president Don Mattrick. "Worldwide, a record number of players flocked to our broadest games and entertainment lineup ever."

As for numbers, Microsoft claims that there are now over 28 million Xbox 360s in circulation around the globe, an 8 million lead over the Sony PS3 (the latter of which was released one year later than the Xbox 360). That number, however, is dwarfed by the approximately 35 million Nintendo Wiis sold worldwide so far; the Wii, too, has been on the market for one year less than the 360 and handily outsells it each month. This trend has continued despite deep price cuts for the Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360's online service, Xbox Live, grew to over 17 million active members. And while most of those members are utilizing the free Xbox Live Silver service, they have now collectively spent over $1 billion on the service over the years. Over 1.5 million players were online concurrently during the holiday week in late 2008, Microsoft says.

With few tier-one games expected in 2009, Microsoft is now more heavily marketing the system's digital music, photo, and video experiences. The company added compatibility with the Netflix streaming video service late last year, though that feature requires paid Xbox Live Gold and Netflix subscriptions. And Microsoft is racing to integrate its Xbox Live and Zune Marketplace services for a possible 2009 rollout.