Sony games biz plays nice in Jan.


January was a good month for Sony's video game business. For the first time, its PlayStation 3 outsold its own PS2 as well as Microsoft's Xbox 360.

And with Warner Bros., Netflix and Wal-Mart recently embracing Blu-ray Disc over HD DVD, ongoing sales of the PS3 — which contains a Blu-ray player — ought to remain robust.

According to industry tracker NPD, Nintendo's Wii was still king in January, though, with 274,000 units sold in the U.S., followed by PS3 at 269,000 and Xbox 360 with 230,000.

On the software side, Activision's "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" for Xbox was tops with 331,000 copies sold, and "Wii Play" was next with 298,000. Activision's "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" for Wii took third, and that same game for Xbox 360 was fifth.

Activision is keeping its billion-dollar franchise fresh with a recently announced "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" version set for a summer release. It will not only contain about 30 Aerosmith songs but also songs from bands that have opened for them while on tour.

Overall, according to NPD, video game sales including hardware, software and accessories in January reached $1.18 billion, a drop of 6% compared with the same month last year.

Most of the shortfall came from the hardware side, and NPD analysts theorized that an inventory shortage was to blame, given the massive number of consoles sold in December.

After NPD released its data Friday, Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell recommended picking up shares of Take-Two Interactive Software, while Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter told clients to buy Activision, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, THQ Interactive and Ubisoft.