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EDITIONS
 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 11:55 GMT
Festive cheer for Xbox
Xbox console
Xbox battling for second place
Sales of Microsoft games console, the Xbox, have picked up in the run-up to Christmas.

The console's sales nearly doubled in November in the US to just under half a million, boosted by specially priced bundles which include two free games.

But while the Xbox is starting to do better, its figures are overshadowed by Sony's PlayStation 2 (PS2).

The Japanese electronic giant estimates that gamers have bought more than a million consoles in the first two weeks of the festive shopping season.

The second place

The PS2 is the undisputed dominant console, but Microsoft is locked in a battle with Nintendo for second place in the lucrative video games industry.

PlayStation 2
PlayStation towers over rivals
These latest figures are good news for Microsoft as they suggest the Xbox is doing far better in the shops than Nintendo's GameCube.

According to market analysts NPD Group, 468,000 Xboxes were sold in the US in November, nearly double the figure for October.

Microsoft said its console has been consistently selling more than the GameCube for the past seven months in the US.

The picture is similar in the Europe, where holiday sales have pushed the Xbox into the number two spot.

In the UK, Microsoft says its console is outselling the GameCube by two to one.

"All this data points to the fact that Xbox is well on the way to being a market leader," said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer.

All in the games

Xbox games seem to be doing well, with 2.4 million sold in November. In particular a key title, Splinter Cell, sold nearly a quarter of a million copies worldwide in just two weeks of the month.

Splinter Cell
Stealth game Splinter Cell doing well
Microsoft's online gaming initiative also appears to have got off to a good start in the US.

The software giant said its Xbox Live kits are selling better than the online offering from its PlayStation rival.

Both software sales and the online service are crucial for Microsoft, as it is losing money on the console itself.

"Sales figures confirm that Splinter Cell on Xbox is at the top of every gamer's wish list this holiday season," said Tony Kee of Ubi Soft Entertainment which developed the title.

Consoles and video games are expecting to be on many Christmas lists this year, with industry analysts predicting a record year.

Sales have been helped by the intense competition between the consoles manufacturers, which has led to dozens of bundles, offering free or reduced games as part of a console package.

See also:

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