Microsoft's introduction of a slimmer Xbox 360 drove sales to 443,500 units in July, easily beating the Nintendo Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3, The NPD Group said in releasing its monthly report late Thursday. The last time the Xbox 360 held the top slot was in September 2007, when sales were driven by the launch of "Halo 3," an Xbox-only game that's among the industry's most popular games
Sales of video-game hardware as a whole, which includes the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS portable, rose 12% from the same month a year ago to $313.8 million. Besides the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 also saw a "significant" increase in sales compared to a year ago.
Industry sales, including hardware, software and accessories, dipped 1% from a year ago to $846.5 million, NPD said. Not included in the industry number are PC games, which saw a 103% increase in dollars from a year ago, due to the success of "Starcraft II."
Blizzard Entertainment released the game July 27 and sold 721,000 units in the month. If PC games were included in video-game industry sales, then the latter would have been up 4% in revenues from a year ago, NPD said.
The top-selling video game in July was "NCAA Football 11," followed by second-place "LEGO Harry Potter." Retailers sold 692,000 units and 401,000 units, respectively.
Video-game industry sales later in the year are expected to get a significant bump later in the year, when Microsoft and Sony are expected to release motion-sensing add-on products to their respective consoles.
Microsoft's Kinect, which is scheduled to be released in early November in the United States, is the more innovative of the two devices. The system comprises a camera, audio sensors and motion-sensing technology to track human body motion. The Wii and upcoming PS3 systems require users to hold a special device. Sony plans to release its PS3 Move add-on in the U.S. in mid-September.
The NPD Group's monthly report is based on store sales only, and doesn't include online sales.