With the launch of Rockstar Games' multiplatform Grand Theft Auto IV in April, many industry watchers expected both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to experience a significant boost in hardware sales. However, that expectation proved to be unfounded. Although GTAIV floored critics and went on to log a record-breaking $500 million in first-week sales, neither console was impacted in a meaningful way by the release. With Sony releasing the equally lauded console-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in June, the latest NPD Group sales figures reveal the importance of exclusive games in the console-sales race.

According to NPD's sales statistics for the month of June, Sony's PlayStation 3 benefitted substantially from the release of Konami and Kojima Production's top-rated action adventure, logging 405,500 units for the month. That's nearly double the number of consoles that Sony sold in May, and a far cry from June Xbox 360 sales, which stood at 219,800 units, despite the release of Tecmo's console-exclusive Ninja Gaiden II.

"Platform-exclusive content usually fuels hardware-system purchases, and PS3 sales certainly reflect the impact of Metal Gear Solid 4," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "PS3 unit sales were the highest of any month outside of that recorded during previous November/December holiday time frames."

Sony's win over its current-generation archrival notwithstanding, Nintendo's Wii once again trounced its competition in the console market. Putting a cap on Nintendo's seeming deal with the devil to go from disappointing GameCube sales to the phenomenally popular Wii, the NPD numbers reflect more than 666,000 units sold in June. That surge puts Wii lifetime sales in the US ahead of those for the Xbox 360, despite the fact that Microsoft's platform has been on the market a full year longer.

"The Wii has taken the lead in total sales of current-generation console hardware at 10.9 million units sold at retail life-to-date in the US," noted Frazier. Not a complete coup, however, as Frazier continued, "The 360 platform has driven the greatest number of hardware purchases this generation, with just under eight software units purchased for each unit of hardware, on average."

As for the portable market, the Nintendo DS maintained its dominance, selling a staggering 783,000 units for the month. Not to be discounted, Sony's PlayStation Portable posted significant numbers in its own right, shifting 337,400 systems. Perhaps contributing to the PSP sales spike was the release of the limited-edition ruby red God of War PSP bundle, which went on sale June 3.

In all, hardware sales contributed $615 million to June's total gaming-industry tally of $1.7 billion, a 53 percent spike compared to the same period a year ago. Breaking out the remainder of the statistics, software sales grew 63 percent year-over-year to nearly $873 million in the US. Accessories saw a more modest 25 percent rise to $202 million.

"The video games industry continues to perform in the face of an ever-increasingly difficult economic environment as many turn to more in-home entertainment," mused Frazier. "Even if growth slows over the back half of 2008, the industry is poised to achieve record-breaking revenues of over $22 billion for the year."

Unsurprisingly, Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4 led the software charts, selling 774,600 units in the US since it went on sale June 12. "As expected, Metal Gear Solid 4 realized significant retail sales and drove PS3 hardware acquisition," noted Frazier, continuing, "while the attached media report does not include units bundled with hardware; if included, MGS4 sold-through nearly 1 million units."

Putting a figure to Activision's trumpeting of Guitar Hero: On Tour sales, NPD has the first Nintendo DS installment in the popular rhythm-game franchise taking the second position with 442,300 sales. Tecmo's controversy-ridden Xbox 360 exclusive Ninja Gaiden II rounded out the top three, selling 372,700 units in its first month on the market. That number nearly equals Wii Fit, which sold less than 100 units under Team Ninja's gory actioner.

Games for the Nintendo Wii slotted into many of the remaining top 10 slots, with Wii Play's 359,100 units scoring the fifth position, Mario Kart Wii finishing seventh with 322,400 units, and Traveller's Tales Lego Indiana Jones notching an eighth-place performance with 294,500 copies on the month. The Nintendo DS version of the Warner Bros.-published game scored the seventh slot with 267,800 copies sold, with the PlayStation 2 edition rounding out the top 10 with 260,300 units. Finally but not last, the Xbox 360 edition of EA's Battlefield: Bad Company ranked sixth in its opening month, selling 346,800 units.

Software: $872.6M (+61%)
Hardware: $615.1M (+54%)
Accessories: $202M (+25%)
Total Games: $1.69B (+53%)

Nintendo DS--783,000
PlayStation 3--405,500
PlayStation Portable--337,400
Xbox 360--219,800
PlayStation 2--188,800

Title / Publisher / Release Date / Units*
1) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) / Konami / 774,600
2) Guitar Hero On Tour (DS) / Activision / 422,300
3) Ninja Gaiden II (Xbox 360) / Microsoft / 372,700
4) Wii Fit w/ Balance Board (WII) / Nintendo / 372,700
5) Wii Play w/ Remote (WII) / Nintendo / 359,100
6) Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox 360) / Electronic Arts / 346,800
7) Mario Kart Wii w/ Wheel (WII) / Nintendo / 322,400
8) Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (WII) / LucasArts / 294,500
9) Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (DS) / LucasArts / 267,800
10) Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (PS2) / LucasArts / 260,300