2009 was a record year for the industry in Australia as we spent over $2 billion for the first time. Despite that, new console hardware sales were actually down ever-so-slightly, dropping 2,000 units below the year before.
The best-selling console of 2009 was the Nintendo DS.
Remarkably, it's the fourth consecutive year that has seen Nintendo's handheld emerge as the best-selling piece of gaming hardware. The DS has now sold more than 2.5 million units in Australia.
Nintendo also took out 2nd place with the Wii selling 730,000 units. There are now more than 1.7 million Wiis in Australia.
That's the easy part out of the way. Nintendo were happy to provide Kotaku with both 2009 and life-to-date sales figures for their hardware, all based on official GfK stats. When it came to Sony and Microsoft, however, things were a little trickier.
Sony told us they'd "installed an additional 318,000 PS3 devices into Australian homes, taking the lifetime installed base to 770,000 units." Checking the fine print, we realised these figures included the consoles they'd given away for free in various promotions, including with their Bravia TVs.
Once you bring a halt to the spin, real GfK figures show that Sony actually sold 272,000 PS3s in 2009 which brought the life-to-date sales figure to 646,000. Sony also revealed life-to-date figures for PS2 (2.5 million) and PSP (604,000) which we confirmed were GfK stats.
Microsoft, too, got all obtuse on us. They issued a press release claiming "more than 950,000 Xbox 360 consoles now take pride of place in lounge-rooms across the ANZ region." They were including New Zealand as well - something neither Sony nor Nintendo had done.
The language of "in lounge-rooms" also suggests they're not referring to how many consoles have been sold, meaning they're taking the same tack as Sony and including promotional consoles. The ambivalent footnote "All stats quoted come from GfK or Microsoft internal sales data" appears to back this up.
Microsoft also refrained from mentioning how consoles they had sold during 2009. We know they hit 500,000 consoles sold to date in Australia in January 2009. So, if you subtract the NZ sales from the 950,000 figure, chances are Microsoft sold about the same number of consoles in Australia in 2009 as Sony did. We've asked them to clarify.
UPDATE: Microsoft has clarified its figures, saying via email: "Xbox has now achieved an Australian install base of more than 850,000 Xbox 360 units, since launching in Australia in March 2006."
Which means the install base has grown 350,000 since the figures we were told last January, placing the 360 marginally ahead of the "additional 318,000 PS3 devices" Sony "installed" over the course of 2009.
To conclude: Nintendo is in a clear first place. Sony and Microsoft continue to squabble over second place, selecting the stats that cast them in the best light when, in reality, there's not much to choose between them.
Don'cha love the console wars?