SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp sold 28 million units worldwide of its Xbox 360 video game console through the end of 2008, expanding the Xbox's lead over rival Sony Corp's PlayStation 3 console in worldwide unit sales, the company said on Monday.
Xbox 360 product management director Aaron Greenberg said 2008 "was our biggest year ever in Xbox history" despite a sluggish global economy that's battered U.S. retailers this past holiday season.
Rising unemployment and tighter credit have dented U.S. consumers' purchasing power and most retailers have posted dismal sales results in recent months.
Despite problems by some publishers, the video game industry overall has bucked the trend as market researcher NPD said video games sales rose 10 percent and totaled $2.91 billion in November, proving consumers were still spending on video games at the beginning of the holiday season despite the sour economy.
Microsoft said global unit sales of the Xbox 360, which was launched about a year before the PS3, outpaced its rival by over 8 million units at the close of 2008.
Online consumer spending on Microsoft's Xbox Live online service increased 84 percent year-over-year and members of the Xbox Live community rose to over 17 million members at the end of 2008, the company said. Consumers have spent over $1 billion on Microsoft's Xbox Live online service since its launch for the 360 in 2005, according the Microsoft.
Greenberg noted "the $199 price point (of the Xbox 360) was really critical to our success this holiday." Microsoft cut the U.S. price of its entry-level console in September to $199, or $50 below Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii console.
(Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Carol Bishopric