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News report questions Microsoft's number two claim

A report on US website GameSpy has collected together information relating to console sales in all three major global territories and come to the conclusion that the GameCube is still leading Microsoft's Xbox in terms of overall global sales.

The hardware sales figures, which the site says have been collected from "various sources", have attracted significant attention since they run contrary to Microsoft's own oft-voiced claim that the Xbox is the number two console, having overtaken rival Nintendo.

GameSpy's figures, of course, need to be taken with a pinch of salt - just as all hardware sales figures do. Most global territories have no single authoritative source for hardware sales statistics, and while the figures used in this report place the GameCube ahead by some 150,000 units, using a set of figures from different sources might have yielded the opposite result.

Indeed, the only conclusion that can sensibly be drawn from this is that on a global level, the battle between the Xbox and the GameCube is quite simply too close to be called, with both consoles approaching an installed base of 10 million units but neither producing a convincing lead.

According to these figures, Microsoft is certainly in the lead in the USA and Europe, albeit that its European lead isn't as much as it might like - around 250,000 units according to GameSpy's figures, with the GameCube fast approaching 2 million installed base and the Xbox at around 2.2 million. However the Cube makes up ground in Japan, with around 2.5 million installed base compared to just a million Xboxen.

Sony, of course, is well ahead of the pack, with nearly 60 million units worldwide, while Nintendo's GBA platforms are doing quite nicely as well, with nearly 34 million units installed base between the GBA and the GBA SP.

However interesting these figures may be, though, the fact remains that they are as unreliable as any others you may have seen, for the simple reason that reliable figures don't actually exist for sales in many territories. Microsoft is certainly rash to declare victory over Nintendo before the sales figures are absolutely certain in this respect - but despite this latest report, they may yet be correct in their claim.

Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.