Despite early predictions that 2008 would be the year Sony regained momentum in the bitter video game console wars, it turned out to be false hope. Industry leader Nintendo stayed ahead of the pack all year, thoroughly dominating both the home console and handheld hardware markets with their Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS systems, respectively.
According to NPD Group, Nintendo flat-out owned the all-important month of November by selling over 2 million Wiis, better than twice as much as the next closest competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 (836,000). And at over 1.5 million DS systems sold, Nintendo tripled the output of Sony’s PSP (421,000). While those numbers weren’t nearly that high through most of 2008, the general order — Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony — held strong throughout.
But this was hardly a banner year for Nintendo in terms of software. The biggest games — Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and of course Wii Fit — came relatively early in the year, and their biggest holiday release, Wii Music, has been labeled something of a dud. Miffed that the company was focusing too heavily on catering to its relatively new mass-market audience, the usually loyal Nintendo fans complained about a lack of core games. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Sony enjoyed a wealth of blockbuster games all year long, including top-sellers Grand Theft Auto IV and Fallout 3. So how did Nintendo compete, much less lead the way?